“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”
I have a big problem with that verse. Not that it’s wrong. Quite the contrary. But actually putting that into practice can be hard.
I like to think of me as a nice guy that has a heart of gold. I love people. I also want them to love me. Not for glory or attention, but I used that as a measure of being a good person.
If you read it like I thought it as I typed it, you see a bunch of things wrong with it. There are so many idioms that apply: you can’t please all the people all the time comes to mind. And it’s true. But I like people to like me.
The problem is that won’t always happen. I’ve become more adept at dealing with that, but it use to be that if you wanted to talk garbage about me, I went on the attack. I had to prove that I was the good one. If I wasn’t I was always quick to apologize. But I was quick to respond or retaliate if someone said something ugly. You weren’t going to ruin my reputation.
Here’s some things I realized. First, by doing that I ruined my own reputation. It’s ugly and messy. Second, I don’t have time for it. I would obsess over what people said about me. But God says if He is for you then who can be against you. Third, I once heard if you need a defense you don’t have one, and if you have one you don’t need one. Right is right and wrong is wrong no matter what I say or do. And what is right will come to light and speak for itself.
But coming upon Matthew 5:44 gave me a problem. How do you love your enemies? I had no clue. But then you look at Romans 5:8, and Paul reminds us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He loved us despite all the garbage we did. And if He can do that, so will I.
Well Jesus told us in the next sentence. Pray for them. Do good for them. It may be hard at first, but it gets easier with practice. You have no control over others’ actions, but you do your own.
People have bad-mouthed me lately and yeah, it hurts. Also makes me angry. I have still responded trying to justify, as I’m still working, but I am praying for them. Though I may get upset, I want to love people as Jesus did. And Jesus died for people that persecuted Him. Not just those that crucified him, but that talked ill of Him. Conspired against Him.
So I’m not perfect. And I’m definitely not Jesus. But I desire so much to be like Him. So I continue to work on my attitudes and reactions. If Jesus loves me as much as He did, I want to share that.
If anyone who has anger at me is reading I do apologize if I responded in kind. And if I haven’t apologized to your face, I hope you give me that chance. And I hope I’m given a chance to love you as Jesus loved me. In the mean time, I’ll be praying.