By Pastor Bobby Schuller
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
– Matthew 5:43-45a
When I finished a sermon on turning the other cheek, giving others your tunic or cloak, going the extra mile, charity and lending, many people had many questions. One of the first things I said in response was that, when we talk about loving our enemies, it is not a new aspect of legalism. For example, I do not believe that Jesus is saying always to turn the cheek when someone slaps you. Rather, he’s saying, think of creative, non-hostile ways to resolve things quickly with people who curse you.
The other thing I heard was, “Well, I don’t really have any enemies.” That’s true for some people. I’m pretty sure my wife Hannah doesn’t have any enemies. Nevertheless, most of us have had enemies in our lives, though it may only have been years ago, so this subject may seem almost irrelevant.
However, if that’s you, here is what I want you to think about: Instead of “enemies,” think “competitors.” When you talk about what it means to love your enemies, what Jesus is essentially saying is to love everyone, even your enemies, even your competitors. That means you are to love difficult people. It also means you have to love yourself because sometimes your enemy is you! Love your enemies…and love you, too.
Prayer: Dear Lord, it is hard to love those who try to hurt me. Sometimes it is even hard to love myself. Please help me to love others and myself by seeing them and me through your eyes of amazing grace. Amen.
Reflection: Think of someone who has hurt or cursed you. Now, filter your feelings through God’s love and find a way to love that person. Describe the creative, non-hostile way you’ve discovered to resolve things with this person.