Jesus said in Matthew 5: 43-44 this: “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies too. Pray for those who treat you badly.” That seems a very strange thing to say, doesn’t it? Love your enemies – those who are mean to you? How could that be what Jesus meant?
Jesus had a lot to say about how to treat other people. He said we should love others and that means even loving those who are unkind to us as well as our friends. Just because they are not as easy to love doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love them. In fact, Jesus said we show that we are God’s children by loving those who do not love us.
Can you think of a time when someone was nice to you even though you had not been nice to them? How did that make you feel? When someone is nice to us, it usually makes us want to be nice in return. If we are nice to those who are unkind to us, we might just turn an enemy into a friend!
Jesus set the example for us to follow. He was rejected, ridiculed, and crucified. But when he was on the cross, he prayed for his enemies. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Wow! That is a huge amount of love and forgiveness and that is the kind of love that Jesus wants you and me to have for others—friends and enemies alike.
Dear Father, help us to follow the example that Jesus set for us. Help us to love everyone, friends and enemies alike, so that they will know that we are true children of God. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church.