When I’m judged and rejected, I hardly want to ‘love my enemies’ and ‘pray for those who persecute me’. I would much rather sulk in a corner and whine about the injustice of it all. I would rather tattle to God about that person’s unacceptable behavior and think up ways I could point out to that person just how judgmental and mean they’re being. I would even rather win imaginary arguments with them.
Of course, none of these are God’s ways. His ways are higher than my ways. I need to confess my own pride and judgment. God did not make me judge over anyone. God alone is the one wise God. He alone is the judge and knows our hearts. How can I judge the heart of my enemies when my own heart is rotten with pride, judgment, bitterness and selfishness?
When I confess my sinful attitude I can come to Jesus and ask what I’m supposed to do. What is my role when I’m judged, disliked and rejected? Jesus tells us to “lend to them without expecting to be repaid”, “be compassionate”, “forgive others”, “be patient with each other”, and “do good to those who hate you”.
I once worked with someone who seemed to despise me for no discernable reason. Maybe that person found me intimidating, maybe that’s how she treated everyone. I was ignored, talked about behind my back, and spoken to as though I may just be the dumbest person on this earth. Despite her demeanor, she seemed to make friends quicker than I did. No one seemed to notice but me. I was livid and frustrated every day.
After a while I realized this was an excellent opportunity to show love to someone I didn’t like and who didn’t like me. With God’s help I continually forgave each ‘offense’ as it happened. Daily I prayed that God would fill my heart with His love for her. I reminded myself that God made her on purpose for a purpose. I prayed God would help me see her the way he sees her. I prayed that He would make His love visible to her in my eyes – that she would see love in my eyes and not hate. I also prayed that He would touch her heart.
God answered. I learned to love. What did it look like? I didn’t avoid her at work. If she happened to be where I planned to walk, I walked there anyway, did my part to make eye contact, made sure I was smiling both on my face and eyes, and prayed for both of us. If my tasks were done and she still had stuff to do, I offered to help. Understand I did not want to help her. I really didn’t. But it was an act of love that I could do and, with God’s help, do it with His love for her. I would accept her help if she offered it, thank her for her advice, smile and say hi. Anytime she would choose to have a conversation with me, I made sure to be intently focused on her every word, alert to opportunities to ask her questions, identify with her … anything to show I care. Whether my efforts and gestures were received, ignored, scoffed or even noticed was not the point. (and I got each of those reactions) But I loved that enemy with all I had, and I know it pleased my Jesus. And He heaped blessings on me because of it. Joy, peace, security, growth, closeness with God … It was well worth it!
To love our enemies is a tall order, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It is His love and mercy and compassion we receive and then give. Of ourselves we cannot. Only in and through Christ. Ask Jesus how you can show love to your enemy. If you’re really asking, He’ll really tell you.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” Luke 6:35,36
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Eph. 4:2