Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Love Thine Enemy

I had a moment last week where I was somewhat frustrated. One of my co-workers was being fairly rude to me and it finally got to the point where I shut down. Throughout this period of frustration, I had several thoughts go through my head. First was the anger; I kept thinking, “how could he be so cruel to me and how can I get him back?” Then I would catch myself in these thoughts and quickly divert to prayer, “God please keep my mind set on you, let me show my co-worker your light, and your love.”

For at least an hour I let these thoughts swirl around my head. Unfortunately I let my angry thoughts win the battle and started to act out, scowling at my co-worker, talking behind his back, and divert to many more thoughts of negativity.

In retrospect, I am sad for myself. Yet again, I failed at showing Christ’s love to an enemy. It’s one of the hardest things to show compassion to those who have hurt you, yet God commands us to do so. Jesus says in Matthew and Luke to “love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” When he shared this, people were quite upset with this teaching, and do you blame them?

Even still, in today’s world we have a hard time praying for those who we are against, but I promise you it is the best thing for you and that is why Christ commands it.

I have a relationship that has been tainted by a lot of hurts from the past. While discussing this person with a mentor, he encouraged me to forgive, move forward, and love this person. The reaction I had in my head was a very quick “no way”, but as I walked away from this meeting I realized that something needed to change. Carrying bitterness was getting too hard and getting in the way of me living up to my potential in Christ. I let the idea of revenge consume me and it became apparent in the way I approached everyday tasks and worse, other relationships.

Somehow, by God’s grace, my heart has been softened and now I can honestly say that I am praying for the ability to forgive this person. I’m not there yet, but even in beginning the process, God has already granted a lot of peace and will continue to do so.

I think that’s why Jesus tells us to love our enemies, because if we choose to hate them, only anger and bitterness remain. I’m not saying we can’t disagree with others or get frustrated with situations, but I am saying God grants us peace and the ability to forgive if we choose to love our fellow image bearers of Christ regardless of our personal view of them.

So I encourage you to consider your enemies and what they have done to you, pray for God to grant the ability to forgive them, and then, to eventually love them. Don’t be like me and let bitterness consume you, it leads you nowhere. But seeing the world through the lens of Christ will always be profitable for your state of mind, heart, and soul.

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