Love Your Enemies

Matthew 5:43-48 (New International Version)
Love for Enemies

43"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[b] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 5:43 Lev. 19:18
  2. Matthew 5:44 Some late manuscripts enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you

Every time I consider how my day to day living can reflect Christ working in me, I struggle with the above passage.  I find it insanely difficult to love my enemies.  Perhaps it’s my nature to be more “reactive” in my treatment of others… people who are friendly to me, I will naturally be nice to them.  Friends who are generous, I always remember their kindness and generosity in my heart and try to return the kindness.  All this unfortunately, falls starkly short of what God requires of us. 

Having a more vindictive nature than most, it’s a natural reaction for me to plot and scheme ways of executing revenge on those who have aggrieved me.  In situations where I’m unable to “exact revenge”, I harden my heart and cut off any concern I may have for the aggressor.  For e.g., the girl who used to bully me in kindergarten, when she died when we were in primary school, everyone thought it was “sad”.  I thought (and still do) it was “good riddance”.  I probably would’ve felt sadder for a stranger who died in some traffic accident than her.

And so today while I consider what it means to love my enemies, I conclude it’s not enough to disengage them from my life.  I need to actually care about how they fare and not have a “if you die, that’s your problem” attitude.  Maybe that’s what an older friend meant when he told me long time ago that we need to forgive, even if we don’t forget.