Loving Our Enemies?

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

I have long forgotten my professor’s name but still remember his comment that, “The Christian life isn’t hard – it is a miracle!” No verse more epitomizes this tension between our natural way of thinking and God’s than the concept of loving our enemies. Jesus wasn’t just a nice teacher teaching us nice things about how we should be sweet and polite. Not at all! The teachings of Jesus contain the most revolutionary thinking of all time! Who in the world thinks that loving enemies is a good idea? Does God really expect us to put this into practice?

Very rarely (like never!) do we hear about loving our enemies in most Christian circles. Instead we seem to think Jesus said, “Complain about your enemies to other Christians.” or “Lobby your local representative to pass laws making their behavior illegal.” Other times we take the approach of simply ignoring the whole “Love your enemy.” idea. But the pesky thing about God’s commands it that He repeats them so often that pretending that He didn’t say them requires us to ignore vast swathes of scripture.

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, Proverbs 25:21

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:10

Now, it is not surprising that we are to love fellow Christians and maybe just a bit more difficult to love our neighbors, but loving people who don’t like us, or worse yet are shooting at us. That is not an easy concept to practice! I have had my own wrestling with putting this into practice, so I do not suggest that I have it all figured out. Are we supposed to win over evil people by just being good? After all, our goodness is just a pile of dirty rags. But God His sent His Son, “While we were still enemies.” to show us His heart and the way. God was so angry with our sin and the evil of what we have done, that instead of destroying us, He sent Jesus to die. That is the miracle. That is the Christian life. That is the only way to love our enemies and to win their hearts and minds for Him!

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
G. K. Chesterton

A Cup of Cold Water

And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Mt 10:42 NKJV

Last year about this time I was finally realizing that my wife would not be home for Valentine’s Day. Nancy had left just before Christmas to fly 3,000 miles to California to take care of a sister who lived alone and had been hospitalized after a terrible fall. Diane’s diagnosis was not good, and her rare lung disease (ILD) was rapidly taking away her strength. Though I missed Nancy, I was also so proud of my wife who was such a champion through all the months of missing Christmas with her grandchildren, losing sleep and holding up under the pressures of becoming a caregiver. When I just happened to stop at the Walgreens to pick up a prescription, I noticed the fancy heart shaped boxes of chocolate candy and decided to send one along with a card for Nancy. As I dropped the candy into my cart I paused and decided that just for fun I would pick up a second smaller box for Diane and I picked out a card for her as well.

Photo by Budgeron Bach on Pexels.com

After dropping the Valentine’s stuff in the mail that afternoon, I pretty much forgot all about it, till a few days later. The phone rang and my wife’s happy voice on the other end reminded me how much she loved chocolates and that my little gift was just what she needed that day. As we spoke, I could hear Diane in the background saying something I couldn’t make out, then Nancy paused and said, “Just a minute Diane has something she wants to tell you.”

As I listened to the sound of the phone being passed, wondering what could be so important, Diane’s voice with the happiest tone I had ever heard came on the line. “Peter, thank you so much for sending me the card and the chocolates! Do you know that you are the first person in my life who ever sent me a box of candy for Valentine’s Day?”

I tell this story, not because i want anyone to think I did some tremendous act of kindness, but to encourage you to know the value of the smallest kindness you can show another person. It is rarely the cost of the gift you are giving, but about the demonstration of love that tells them, you matter, you have value and I remember you. On Valentine’s Day we do special things for our spouse or for someone we love. This year, why not remember that it is also an opportunity to show God’s love to someone who is alone. That small kindness tells them that God remembers and values them. It might be a small box of chocolates, a handful of flowers or even just a cup of cold water but is precious to Jesus and something that He promises will never lose its reward!

Photo by Meir Roth on Pexels.com

No Fishing!

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:19 KJV

“Private property”, read the sign by the edge of the pond. “No hunting fishing or trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” But just feet away a stranger sat, fishing pole in hand on the little dock. As the farmer’s wife approached, she smiled and asked, “What are you doing here?”

“Oh I always fish here.” The man responded with a shrug. “I have permission from, Rita Modei.”

“Really?” she responded with a quiet chuckle. “Well I’m Rita. I don’t know you – so get off my land!”

That true story happened just up the road from us, and it reminded me of today’s verse. Just like that guy, most of us start off explaining our faith by saying something about God’s love. “Jesus loves you.” Or “God is love.” These phrases roll easily off our lips, but in our daily lives sometimes we are a lot like the guy fishing in someone else’s pond. We know about it. We have heard there are some big fish in there, but we have never actually met the owner! Paul tells us that this love of Christ is something that is beyond our understanding. But the good news is that God wants us to know it. He has seen us fishing in His pond and has come to talk with us – but unlike our neighbor, He didn’t come to throw us off His land. He came to meet us. He came so that His love could be lived out in the ordinary circumstances of our lives. He is ready to give a fishing license to everyone who puts their faith in Him. We might be trespassing on His property, but He isn’t looking to prosecute us to the fullest extent of the law. His is a love that is fishing for our hearts, and He invites you to come fishing today!