“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
As you read these words of Jesus, I wonder what you think and feel? It’s one thing to agree with the sentiment, but in revealing the counter-cultural way of life that characterises Jesus’ kingdom, these four short instructions certainly pack a punch.
Here we see that Jesus is the Lord of a kingdom that cuts against the grain of every human impulse. In place of the hostility, vengeance and bitterness that comes so easily to human nature, we are to put on love, good works, kind speech and prayerfulness. These verses are challenging, for even if we struggle to think of people who hate, curse and mistreat us, the simple truth is that loving others deeply and sacrificially is hard work, and even more so when we feel wronged or slighted.
As Jesus goes on to say in this passage, it is easy to love those who love us, but what about that work colleague who ignores you? Or the family member who belittles you? Or further from home, how are we to respond to those we read of in the news who mistreat and oppress the vulnerable? I know from my own heart that it is often more tempting to harbour anger and resentment towards these people than to pray for them out of sincere love.
The way of Jesus is certainly not easy, and despite our best intentions we will fall short time and again. Thankfully though, Jesus’ grace and goodness towards us is so great that when we turn to Him in faith for help, He promises to change our hearts to be more like His. This is a lifelong process for every believer, but remember that Jesus has gone before us, showing us the way. He has provided the supreme example of loving His enemies, even to the point of death, so that those who trust Him might receive the blessings of forgiveness and eternal life. So as we seek to love those around us, let us look to Jesus who has loved us first.
Lord Jesus, we are so grateful for the love You have shown us in Your life, death and resurrection. Please soften our heart towards those we find difficult to love, and fill us with Your strength and power to pray for and do good towards them. We ask this in Your precious name, Amen.