"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." Luke 6:35 ESV
In reading this, I immediately start doing a quick mental inventory of my enemies. I wasn't coming up with anything, then remembered an incident last week when someone passed me on the highway and then cut in front of me to move into the fast lane. Ashamedly, briefly, that person put me in a dark place. In that time and space, that person was my enemy. I'd be willing to say most of us have had similar experiences.
Jesus' gospel was radical on so many levels, but perhaps the most extreme was the idea of loving our enemies. Those who do us harm, wittingly, and unwittingly. In my case, their actions were not aimed at me directly; I was just an obstacle between them and their destination. Yet it upset me, creating a disturbance in my soul. Today’s verse says when they are mean, treat them with kindness. If in need, give to them freely, not as a loan but as a gift. God loves our enemies with the very same love he shows us.
As followers of Christ, and in obeying our Father’s will, we must also show love to those who hate and despise us. Jesus, of course, is our perfect example. Among the last words spoken at his crucifixion were, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) When we look at the lengths to which Jesus forgave his enemies, is it unreasonable for us to love our enemies with our often petty grudges? Even that person who cuts us off on the highway. I'm not saying it is easy. Our human instinct is to retaliate, but through the working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to love as Christ loves.
God, we give you thanks for your love for all your people. We admit we don't love as we should. Loving imperfectly only those we like. Often we let our baser human instincts take over when mistreated by others. Please help us to learn how to love more perfectly as Jesus loves. Help us to see you in everyone we come into contact with. Let our life be an example to others that we may glorify you.
Who or what is keeping us from loving completely?