It made me sad that someone whom I treated as a friend turned against me. As I ponder on this, I realised that while friendship is a two-way street, enmity is not.
Sure, it takes two people who hate each other to be enemies. This morning, an important lesson hit me. I realised that enmity can be one-sided. In the person’s eyes, I might be his/her enemy, but I have the choice to see him/her as my enemy or not. I have the choice to see otherwise. I can decide to react differently.
How? Here’s something I wrote on Jan. 6, 2019 in my devotional journal.
What more are you doing than the others?
The world’s standard of success is to do more, know more, earn more and have more than others. More money, more degrees, more material resources. More popular, more powerful, more influential. ‘Be’ more than others in everything. Ambition drives the successful person. What ‘more’ are you doing than what others are doing?
Jesus asked this same question but in a completely different context. In the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5), Jesus set for His disciples standard that is Opposite of the world’s values. The 8 beatitudes speak of blessings of the poor, the mourning, the humble, the hungry, the thirsty and the suffering.
Jesus mentioned six times ‘You have heard that it was said…” (vv.21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43) What was said? The standards of do’s and don’ts. Who said so? The world said so.
v. 21 – Murder; v. 27 – Adultery; v. 31 – Divorce; v. 33 – Oaths (Words) v. 38 – Revenge… All these are related to the last 5 commandments – how to love my neighbor.
The final word Jesus taught on loving my neighbor, includes my enemies.
Matthew 5 (NASB)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Even the Gentiles, do they not do the same?
In essence, Jesus asked: What are you doing that the others in the world are NOT doing?
Jesus taught His disciples the principle of the upside down kingdom of God. “Therefore, be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (v. 48)
Success is doing what our heavenly Father does: shining the sun on the bad and the good; loving both the righteous and the unrighteous. Success is being who our heavenly Father is – perfect in Love.
Love your enemy. Such a powerful radical standard – radical is not about going against the tide. Radix – comes from the Latin – root. In linguistics, it is the primitive word from which other words may derive. When you love your enemy, you can turn the other cheek, you can walk the extra mile, you can pray for those who persecute you. You can do so much more than others – you can be so much more than others who are not – perfect as your heavenly Father!
To love our enemy compels us to do more than the others. God loves me even when I am disobedient, even when I do not please Him. His love for me compels me to do more… more than others…
What are you doing more than others, my friend? Is it more than what “you have heard that it was said?” Who said? Have you heard what Jesus said? BUT I say to you… Do what they are not doing – turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, pray for those who persecute you, Love your enemy. Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect!
Lord, it is hard. It is not easy to love those who hurt me, those who betray me. Jesus, you love your enemies – those who denied you, those who betrayed you, those who put you on the cross. Empower me to see through your loving eyes – eyes that treat everyone as a neighbour. In your name, I pray, Amen.