Love Your Enemies, part 2

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:32-36

I don’t know about you, but this whole idea is easier after I read this paragraph; it just makes more sense to me. He’s right when He makes the point that anyone can love people who love them; I get that one. I get it the next point too; sure, it isn’t that hard to do nice things for people who return the favor, in fact, I want to do that. The same is true with the example of lending to those who I know will pay me back.

Years ago I decided, after a difficult experience, that from then on I would only lend to someone when I was able to make the loan a gift; I’d be pleasantly surprised if the other person ever paid me back and if they didn’t, it was a gift. That saved a lot of conflict and bad feelings over the years, so yes, I get that one too.

His main point is that God is merciful to those who don’t really deserve His mercy, and that God is kind to those who really don’t deserve His kindness, and I get that one too, because He is merciful and kind to me, and I really don’t deserve either from Him.

I’m not sure how you feel about all of this, but at this point, the ‘love your enemies’ thing is a lot easier for me than it started out being. Yes, there are plenty of times when I need to check my attitude at the door, but when I consider all that God has forgiven me for, I’m willing to do it as best I can, with the hope that as time goes on, I will have fewer occasions when I need to consciously think about it, for it will have become second nature.

I’d love to hear what you think!

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21 thoughts on “Love Your Enemies, part 2”

  1. WOW! You got my conflicting thoughts having a great conversation! 🙂

    And yet, through all the internal noise came a calm quiet voice: “I never just gave what was asked, I gave what was needed.” And oddly all the internal chatter has stilled – waiting for me deal with that sentence!

    I see God Jesus giving freely – but I never see Him filling a shopping list. And whilst He may have the all-knowing all-seeing stuff, I reckon we could do something similar. Which is not just to give a yes or no, but to offer a conversation. It is a skill I have yet to master and can easily end with “All I am asking for is a ???? for goodness sake – is that too much to ask?” Judging what has value in a conversation and what has not … still listening and learning!

    I have been ripped off spectacularly (as my family love to remind me), yet I would prefer that to being so cautious that I never was. Because that would mean turning down real need too often.

    “I never just gave what was asked, I gave what was needed.”

    There was once I had got off the train back from work and was walking out of the train station. And someone going the other way was asking for “day travel-card tickets” (I had finished with mine). And as I was going to hand mine over – I heard that same quiet voice: “No”. Nothing more. Just that. So I walked on.

    I think what these verses offer is not the easy answer of “yes I have – so yes you can” or “no I haven’t – so no you can’t”. Or even the “how dare they freeload off me!” I think He is offering the chance to connect me with another through Him (or Him through me with another – or Him through another with me!). I wonder more and more whether the “cheque value” is irrelevant.

    And I find it is getting harder to differentiate enemies and friends when all that swings in my thought process!

    1. Yes, those conflicting thoughts can be a real bear. 🙂 You are not alone in having them of course. Isn’t it something when we find ourselves wanted to do right, and having an earnest desire to help others, love others and serve God, while at the same time seeing a cash register tape running in our minds as we hesitate to reach out? Or maybe that isn’t really that surprising when we take into account how many of our waking hours are spent dealing with the earning, managing or protecting of material things… I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m a work in progress 🙂

  2. As long as we keep the right focus–that God has been merciful and forgiven us, then it will be easy. When we lose that focus it will be hard.

  3. Easy to say until we start actually populating our lists of enemies.

    Terrorists.

    Convicted rapists in your town.

    People on the other end of the political spectrum.

    That mother-in-law who’s made your life hell.

    We’re like, “NO I’m not going to give them money!!!” (I wouldn’t blame you for not giving the terrorists money).

    But it’s not until we’ve filled the list with enough horrible people to realize that we need the power of Christ in our hearts to pull this off, that we really understand this verse.

    1. Clearly Brandon, having the power of God in our lives is the key to all of this. Even so, I would want to mention that giving money to terrorists is a serious felony these days 🙂

  4. Don;
    I think there is a second qualifier concerning this topic. It is forgiveness…. For someone to be an enemy there had to be a transgression from one or the other. Homes are broken with transgressions, wars are launched over transgressions; without true forgiveness love can not prevail.

    Whenever we think “vengeance is mine” and “I will repay this transgression” then we make further the hate we feel and love becomes overwhelmingly absent. Ever increasing our position as enemies. “Vengeance is mine”, sayeth the Lord. We should pray for our enemies as Christ, on the Cross prayed “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Illustrating further forgiveness is key to allowing love to prevail…..

    May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you and yours, Don…. Shalom.

    1. I agree with you; for sure forgiveness is implicit in all of this. In the next section, it is more overtly expressed in the text about judging others. Even so, we might have enemies without anyone having committed a transgression, for many times, we perceive an enemy by some sort of association before anything has ever been done. Here’s an example: my name is on the White house “enemies list” as published in the WSJ several years back when it was leaked, but I retired from politics 4 years before the Administration came to power, and I have never done a single thing to oppose them. When my wife was working in DC and there were White House invitations going around, she got invitations that specifically didn’t include me; she was the only one who got those… and I could get clearance for most anything in DC.

  5. Great post.. you’re talked about several factors and helping us to love our enemies. The one thing I haven’t seen mentioned is our pride. When pride gets in the way it is very hard the see ourselves loving those who have hurt us. As the previous comments said we need to have forgiveness in those situations and pride will keep us from forgiving. Pride makes us think we’re better than them so why should we love them.

    Carrying out this mandate for my Lord takes humility in its purest form. I learned that the hard way many years ago when I really don’t with my pride. And I still have to check it at the door many times. But I came to realize the same thing you did. If God would have mercy and Grace on a sinner like me what right do I have to withhold mercy and Grace from anybody I might come in contact with. If God can love me, who was certainly an enemy to him before I got saved, why shouldn’t I love them?

  6. Great post. We really need to get over any notions that forgiveness depends on some action, attitude, or atonement from our enemy. God is merciful and forgiving not because we deserve it, but because that’s the nature of love we are meant to reflect.

  7. Loved your post and these comments. The hardest time I had forgiving was after 9/11. I prayed for a year to forgive from my heart and God gave it to me. Giving: my husband said the same thing, he gives without expecting anything back. He learned that also in order to have peace. I think God blesses us when we do that.

    One time, my mom and I had a hard time knowing when to give money to people begging. We lived in Vancouver, BC, for 5 years. There are many people begging there. When we first moved there, Mom and I always gave money. Then the businesses where we lived put poster-boards on the sidewalks asking us not to give to beggars because they then hang around their stores. The also printed the addresses of all the places they could get free meals.

    Well, I felt bad for the businesses and so did Mom, so we decided we better stop giving. Oh my, how hard that was for us. We hated saying no to just giving a dollar. After a couple of weeks of that, we went back to giving. It just never felt right in our hearts not to give. We figured God wanted us to give.

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