Luke 6:27-28 New International Version
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Luke 6:31-36 New International Version
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 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. 35 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. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Agape love is the necessary foundation of our Christian life. Jesus tells us that we are to love not only those who love us, but we are also to love our enemies. As humans, this last part can be very hard to do.
The love Jesus tells us we must have in our life, mirrors the love that God has for humankind, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He died for those who were nailing him to the cross. Christ died for all, even those who ultimately reject Him.
As we often want to do, now is the time to take personal inventory;
- Do you show God's love to all people?
- Do you have people in your life that you cannot show this love to?
- Are there people in your life that you treat differently than you want to be treated?
Some people are definitely hard to love, especially those who have treated us badly, talk about us, or openly show their disdain for us. So, what are we to do?
Let us first state that showing the love of Christ to others does not mean that we have to run in their social circles or even like being in their presence. It doesn’t mean we have to “pal around” with them. What it does entail is that we treat them with the dignity and respect we would want to be treated with. That "pesky" golden rule applies to everyone. Do unto them as you would have them do unto you.
We also must show them the same agape love that God has demonstrated in our life. Not "buddy-buddy" type actions, but evidence of forgiveness in our actions and words.
Going a step further, showing the love of Christ to all people requires that we harbor no anger, bitterness, resentment, grudge or grievance against anyone. Why? It is very hard to be cordial, polite and respectful when these emotions are simmering beneath the surface.
These negative emotions are harmful and it is easy to let these emotions fester in our mind. If not dealt with, they can grow into much worse emotions. What do you think bitterness, resentment, grudges and grievances can turn into? They turn into anger. What do you think anger unchecked can turn into? It can turn into hatred.
So, you see, we must deal with these emotions early on through prayer and with the help of the Holy Spirit, turning these matters over to God.
Otherwise, when these emotions fill our mind, it is impossible to show the love of Christ to those who these emotions are directed toward.
Finally, we must be willing to help out those who are our enemy, if we have the means and opportunity to do so. As the good Samaritan did, we must be willing to “pull our enemy out of the ditch” should we come upon this situation. Metaphorically, this means any situation where we can show compassion, care and be of help if the situation arises.
Showing the love of Christ to those who use us, talk about us, demean us, disparage us or mistreat us is extremely difficult on the human level. However, it can be done through prayer, walking in the Spirit and turning these matters over to God.
Don't think you can't do it.
We must do it and therefore it can be done!
Christ prayed for the soldiers who nailed His hands and feet to the cross. He prayed for those who sent Him to the cross. He loved them even though they were causing Him great pain and agony.
He prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
How about praying this same prayer for those who have hurt or harmed us in any way?
Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only LIGHT can drive out darkness and as Christians we are to show the love of Christ and be the light of the world.
Praying for those who have hurt or harmed us, then showing them the love of Christ may not change things immediately, but it is certainly what Christ directs us to do and it could help lead someone to Him.