September 20, 2013

Love Your Enemies?

Matthew 5:43-48

“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
—Matthew 5:44


Seriously? Loving enemies? Praying for them? Isn’t that going just a little too far? How can Jesus expect that of us?

An enemy moved into my neighborhood. He abused his girlfriend, dumped garbage illegally on our country roads and lied about it, and grew illegal substances in his house. That was just the first week. I hated him.

Then one day I saw him digging a plumbing trench in his yard. I knew what I had to do. I resisted, but finally I sighed and said, “OK, Lord …” I drove up to the guy’s house and pulled out my shovel. Then I actually smiled and said, “Need some help?”

He looked at me with some confusion on his face and said, “Uh—sure.” So we dug together for a while. I didn’t say much. I did not, just then, say anything about Jesus. I just dug.

By the time I left, I did not hate him anymore. And now when I drive by, he waves. Last week, I stopped by to talk.

I still don’t understand totally how to live by this teaching of Jesus. But if you have mutual hatred with someone, try loving them somehow. You will be happier, because it’s really hard to cherish hatred in your soul and to be happy at the same time.

Lord, what you’re asking here is risky and dangerous. It creates a conflict in my heart. Father, overcome this conflict. Give me strength to obey, and may this help your kingdom to come. Amen.

About the author — Keith Mannes

Keith Mannes serves as pastor at Highland Christian Reformed Church in McBain, Michigan. Keith and his wife, Alicia, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary,
and they are thankful for their three children—Eben, Charis, and Breanna.

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