“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”Luke 6:27
The first time new Christians encounter this verse in the Bible, they likely think to themselves, “Say what!” Whether it’s the person who belittles you at the office or the worksite, the rich neighbor who treats you condescendingly, or the bully at school, the answer, the command that Jesus gives to us in response to such treatment is to love them as we love ourselves.
But how do we force ourselves to love someone? After all, Jesus is not looking for mere outward actions, but a love that emanates from the heart. Malcolm Tolbert put it this way about Christian love: “It is a way of living with and relating to other human beings. We can act in creative, helpful, and redemptive ways toward people for whom we do not feel attracted– even toward those who are hostile and vindictive.”
What often escapes our thoughts is that we, too, have offended and hurt others at some point in time. For example, we might have verbally abused Christians who were obedient and faithful to the Lord by sharing the gospel with us. Now, as Christians ourselves, do we not desire their forgiveness? Of course, the answer is yes. As followers of Jesus, we are saddened by how we once treated other Christians before we were born again. Yes, we certainly do desire to be forgiven by those people and by God. Therefore, we ought to also be forgiving toward those who offend and hurt us.
Therefore, when it comes to loving those who hate or otherwise persecute us, let us recall the Scripture that reminds us “that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus willingly suffered and died on a cross for those who persecuted Him then and for those who persecute Him today, which at one point in time included you and me.
Tolbert, M. O. (1970). Luke. C J. Allen (ed.). The Broadman Bible Commentary (Vol. 9). (pp. 1-188). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
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