I love that the Lord Jesus Christ has given us the perfect law of liberty. Unlike the Old Testament which teaches “eye for an eye”, Jesus’ teachings are anchored on love. That said, they are in no way easy to learn or do, either. In fact, His teachings are astoundingly difficult to follow. That is, without the power of the Holy Spirit in us. This is the way to victory that the Lord has paved for us: the law of love together with the Holy Spirit. And yet, there will still be struggles.
The Lord says to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us (Mat. 5:44). I presume a Christ-follower should not have enemies, that is, enemies of his or her own doing. But whether we like it or not, the world makes us its enemies. The righteous will be persecuted. When we walk in direct contrast with the world, the world becomes our enemy. It wouldn’t want to receive our reproof.
Imagine loving someone whom you had shown compassion to then turned back and hurt you with her words, lifted up her heart against you, and scorned your good intentions. Imagine loving someone (that means love in every sense of the word) who wounded you and made you cry. If you’ve ever been in that place, you know how impossibly hard this thing the Lord asks of us. I’ve been in that place. And while the wound was still raw and the tears had not yet dried, this commandment pressed hard on me.
Remember Ecclesiastes 12:18? It says, “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” I fear God so I needed to obey His commandments. Before I can even attempt to love my “enemy”, there was a need to forgive. Forgive even without an apology or an admission of fault from the other person. That, in itself, was hard. But these are things we are commanded to do.
So, many times a day, I prayed for that person who hurt me deeply. I prayed that the Lord would bless her (ouch!) and be merciful to her and that she would be truly happy. The more my heart resisted (for it was the natural order of things – ugh!), the more I prayed and the more tears poured. Tears, not for the other person, but for me, that the Lord would be merciful to me, accept my prayers, and change my heart. For while I prayed to forgive and bless over and over, my heart wasn’t following suit. Anyone who had experienced that?
But I pressed on until one day, the Lord fixed everything. I realized then that we need only to obey and the Lord will do the rest. He changed my heart and the other person’s heart until peace and mutual love were restored.
In the Old Testament, the law tells us to love our neighbor and hate our enemy (Mat. 5:43). But Jesus changed all that. If we choose to hate our enemy, we will be imprisoned by this strong negative emotion and we won’t know true peace and joy. Thank God for Jesus!
(Photo courtesy of my friend Perla Frisberg).
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Journey with Jesus,