27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 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. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
In these verses Jesus is continuing his teaching on Christian culture. He specifically speaks of our attitude to our enemies.
Of course to Jesus’ listeners their enemies included The Romans, occupiers of their land. I’m sure his words were confronting in that context. This got me thinking – who are my enemies?
Enemies is a strong word but I believe in my circumstances it includes those who come against me. This could be in the workplace, or even in the family. Those who undermine me, disregard my efforts and are unfairly critical, even block my advancement. Could it be those who hold a grudge and turn others against me, or spread rumours in an effort to discredit me? The hurt they can cause can be profound, even setting me back and may cause me to doubt myself.
When I show these people mercy and kindness it can change the situation. Most importantly, it changes my heart and shapes me into God’s child. I show God’s character in my life, just as children show the character of their parents. Easy? When I find it hard, God is with me, and shows how strong he is when I obey Jesus’ command – “Love your enemies, do good to them.” When I find it hard I thank God for his love for me – while I was his enemy I was reconciled to him by Jesus’ death – Romans 5 v19. What a merciful God I have!
Dear Heavenly Father, you call me to be different, your Spirit shapes my heart. Convict me this week to show mercy and kindness in the face of ungratefulness and hurt. Not begrudging, but with your love. Amen
Written by Claire Moore