But I tell you who hear me: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6: 27
Some people are just difficult, aren’t they? Especially those who don’t like us and even wish us ill will. They are difficult to deal with, difficult to be around, and especially difficult to love! If there is one Scripture passage in the Bible that would be the most DIFFICULT to follow, I think this one might be it.
Love your enemies? Pray for those who mistreat you? What harder command could there be? How can we possibly love and pray for someone who speaks evil of us, who wants to hurt us and tear us down?
When someone wrongs us, it is human nature to want to respond by getting back at them, to hurt them as they have hurt us, or at least, we want them to know how much damage they have done. But Jesus instructed His followers to have a different approach.
This verse is from a collection of sayings and teachings by Jesus found in His “Sermon on the Mount” which is often referred to as “the greatest sermon ever preached.” Here Jesus is calling for His followers and us, His believers, to do something that He knows is in total opposition to our human nature, a new and radical way of looking at those who despise us and wish us harm.
He is not commanding us to just put up with “our enemies” for the sake of appearances, or to have a mild affection for them. He is not calling us to refrain from hating them or even ignoring them. He desires more. He commands us to love them with a love that goes beyond understanding – agape love – love that is selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional, a perfect description of how Jesus loves us.
Can you imagine? Jesus wants us to put the interests of those who mistreat us above our own, to sacrifice our own feelings and what we want, for theirs, and to focus instead on their needs, and to love them unconditionally. He expects more from us and longs to transform our hearts. He commands us to love our enemies and pray for those who have ill will towards us. His desire is for us to forgive whatever these individuals have done to us, just as He has forgiven us for all the wrongdoings in our lives. He wants us to always respond with love and kindness to others.
What expectations our God has of us, as He teaches us to love others as He loves us. Have you ever heard this saying, “We are never more like Jesus Christ than when we are doing good to someone who doesn’t deserve it.” ?
God demands us to live by the Golden Rule – to treat all people, even our enemies, in the way we want to be treated, with compassion and respect. We must love them, do good to them, ask God to bless them, and pray for them. We must pray that their hearts will be changed and that they may look at us and others with a more loving spirit.
It sounds impossible for any and all of us, doesn’t it? And it is. We can’t do it alone, but we are told and must believe, that through Him nothing is impossible.
Dear God, you know our hearts and how difficult it would be for us to treat those who mistreat us with love and kindness. Yet this is your command for us and through you, your Spirit, your guidance, and your grace, we pray we will be able to do so. Thank you for loving us even when we aren’t so loveable ourselves and help us, through your love, to love others unconditionally. We praise your most holy name. Amen