You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The call to love goes beyond our neighbor.
It goes beyond ourselves.
It goes to our enemies.
And who is our example? God. “Your Father in heaven.” He doesn’t just give grace and love to the good or the righteous, but to the evil and the unrighteous, as well.
How successful are we at loving a tight-lipped, humorless person who not only takes himself too seriously but misses all the sparkle of our great wit? What about the touchy soul around whose personality we must tread softly? The self-righteous one who has yet to admit his first mistake? Are we to love the person who wrongs us? Who cheats us? Who connives to hurt us? Are we to love the neighbor whose life seems motivated by thinking up new ways to torment us? Are we to love the neurotic relative who keeps track of every activity and interprets it according to his or her warped mind? Are we to love the unfaithful friend or husband or wife or child? Are we to love the liar? The gossip? The Communist Politician?… ~Eugenia Price, Make Love Your Aim
Yes. We are.
We are to love as Christ loved us.
While we were yet sinners, He died for us.
We are to love sacrificially.
Giving good gifts to our enemies.
Heaping burning coals on their heads.
Some people interpret this to mean our kindnesses toward our enemies will feel like burning coals on their heads, searing the conscience. But I’ve also heard another interpretation which seems plausible. Heaping burning coals on someone’s head is to give them a blessing. In the east on cold mornings if one had a fire burning and another did not, you could go to your neighbor’s home, balancing pottery on your head, and ask for burning coals from their fire. It seems consistent with the idea of loving our enemies. Even if you had something against your neighbor, would you refuse him the coals to keep his fire burning, to be able to warm his home or cook his meal?
Jesus continually called us to love and act beyond the requirements of The Law.
Living in light of the New Covenant is to live the way Jesus did.
Will you die for your enemies?
Or how ’bout just being kind to those who bug you?
Wow…what a concept.