Love your enemies. I remember learning this as a child. The face of a bully and someone who ridiculed me for an unrequited crush came to mind. Those things didn’t last, thankfully. As I grew older, though, the wounds grew deeper and ability to manage things like personal attacks and betrayals grew much more difficult. Dare I say practically impossible? Those are the things that cause me to plan trips around other people’s routines, scan parking lots at stores, and tables at restaurants in hopes of not encountering a person with whom I have a broken relationship. I am reminded of the quote, “I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry, and accept an apology I never received.” Can you relate?
This verse came to life to me when I watched the movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” There is a scene while Jesus was tortured with flashbacks to various points in His ministry. One of the scenes sandwiched the prolonged brutality with Christ uttering a teaching found in a verse just prior to today’s text: “Listen, what’s the big deal if you love people who already love you? Even scoundrels do that much” (Luke 6:32, VOICE)! Therein lies the challenge, doesn’t it? This is one of the key things that sets Christianity apart — Jesus’ command to love one another as God loves us isn’t just for family and friends, it also extends to foes. Jesus exhibited this so poignantly as He submitted Himself to the cross and then prayed a prayer of forgiveness over those who not just put Him there but celebrated it, too (Luke 23:34). Talk about bullies, ridicule, and unrequited love.
So, here’s is quite the challenge for you today: follow Jesus’ commandment and love your enemies. I know it’s hard, and don’t even really know how…actually, it’s impossible without the Lord’s help. So let’s close today by looking again at the entirety of today’s verse within context from Luke 6:35-36 (NIV)…
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.