Daily Devotional

Love Your Enemies

by Simon Whitton

27 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.  If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.

35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:27-29, 35-36 (NIV)

We have all been victims in some way or another.  I have a long history and a lot of personal experience with this.  Probably all of us have been mistreated, stolen from, wrongfully accused, or abused at some time or another.  We may have been defenseless children, but even as adults we continue to be victimized.

But what is our typical response to the abuse we suffer?  If you are like me, the response has often been anger, bitterness, resentment, self-pity, and unforgiveness.  Unfortunately, this list of responses may be expected, but that doesn't make them right, and can cause us additional long-term harm.

The Lord actually expects us to love our enemies, and do good to those who hate us.  Jesus was the ultimate example.  He was persecuted, ridiculed and victimized, rejected by men and familiar with suffering.  He was hurt but did not display any of the symptoms that we would usually associate with emotional damage.  He maintained a personal grace and holiness, forgiving and even loving His enemies while He was dying.

Jesus accomplished this because He was completely secure in the love that His father had for Him.  The promises of God guarantee that we are unconditionally accepted; He has chosen us and delights in us.  His love is a strong tower, shielding us, not from abuse, but from serious emotional harm.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39 (NIV)

It is only when we doubt God's promises and accept the lies of the enemy that we are wounded.  When we believe that we are abandoned, rejected or unloved, that's when we become emotionally scarred.

Instead, we need to fully receive the love that God has poured out on us.  Then we will walk with peace in the full confidence of His love and acceptance; even in the midst of bitter adversity.  No longer will we fall into self-pity or depression; and no longer will our security depend on the kindness of those around us, but it will rest on the promises of God.

We then become transformed by God's love for us, and with the overflow of His love, we are able to love our enemies.

Spend some time in prayer and ask the Lord to forgive you for not fully accepting His love for you.  Ask Him to heal the emotional wounds this has caused.  Pray that you would so fully receive His love that you will be able to forgive your enemies, to 'bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you'.

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