My legacy was filled with hostility and hatred, so Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, (are hostile toward you) was not quickly embraced.
It was hard because Luke was saying we should show love to those who do those hostile and hateful acts toward us. What? Love begets love. I’ve never seen hate or hostility produce love. That’s unnatural. I know it is impossible without a change in ME, and I wondered…
Could I change my attitude to enable me to follow this command?
The next verses got specific:
Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies,
and do good,
expecting nothing in return ; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
I think of my mother, hostile toward me until God placed me as her caregiver and changed my attitude toward her. Her hostility did not change my attitude—I had to ask God to love her because at that point I could not.
I honestly do not think of or even want to be kind, to lend, or to do good to evil people who persecute others. Luke compares the people we should love with those Jesus already loved as “ungrateful and evil men.”
My mother was like that for most of my life – no matter what you did or spent, or gave up for her there were no thanks, but more demands until the day in 2010 she asked why do you keep doing things for me? I could not yet honestly say at that point that I loved her, but I did want to obey God’s command to honor her as my mother, so when I said , “because I want to honor you as my mother,” we both had tears – her tears, I think, because we all long for love and respect, and my tears because it was true – God had changed me from have to honor her to want to honor her.
I know from that experience and others that I cannot on my own act as Christ did.
Consequently my first step toward being kind to my abuser, harasser, hater, (I wish you were dead, I should have killed you, etc.) was that I need to pray first that God will make me want to be obedient, and then the will to want to care enough to do good to all challenging people in my life – not to help in any evil endeavors, but so I can faithfully show God’s love and perhaps someday do the ultimate good – to show Christ that they might come to know Him.
When my six-year-old granddaughter got off the school bus one day, and told us of being bullied, she gave me the perfect illustration. “Hurting people hurt others,” she said in retrospect, and she felt badly for the person who lashed out at her, rather than lashing back. She had been taught that by someone else who had experienced it.
I understand distraction caused by physical and/or spiritual pain. A missionary told us they fix the body first, so the soul can hear and likely respond. That is our calling.
I started to write that It took my mom 7 years to figure out that I was caring for her for her best, but as I write this perhaps more of the truth is it took me 7 years of practice to learn to care for someone who was constantly resistant, never had a reasonable answer or reaction and would actually try to harm me or anyone associated with me in retaliation for taking her out of her home a short time so I could get people in to make it a healthy and safe environment.
In case I wondered what it means to do good, Isaiah 1:17 outlined it clearly:
Learn to do good;
Reprove the ruthless;
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.
I appreciated that the writer recognizes loving enemies is not a natural response abut encourages that we can learn to do good – even to our enemies by following Jesus’ example, and by praying and living out His Word.
One thing I noticed afresh was that these commands in Isaiah are not necessarily commands for one person to do, (as a lone ranger) but are inclusive the help of others to accomplish these purposes equally for all mankind.
Despite my mother’s hostility and ruthlessness there was injustice I could help correct, and the community rejection had me several times to plead for help for her as a widow. Someone said I was her good Samaritan but that was one who stopped in his journey through enemy territory and willingly helped an enemy in need. But what if we are the ones who pass by that person? Aren’t we all tempted to pass on by and pray for someone else to deal with such a challenge?
What does Jesus say about that?
Matt. 25:45 –to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.
Dealing with my mother, I had to often remind myself of my status when Christ died for me. I was His enemy, and by sinning or being resistant to His direction and correction, I was hostile to Him too.
Yet, God used someone or several someones along the way to show love that brought me to know Christ.
And so by letting God love others through us we learn to Love Him as He first loved us…
That’s to our benefit but also to the benefit of others
Is. 41:20 That they may see and recognize,
And consider and gain insight as well,
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
And the Holy One of Israel has created it.
What kindness or love have you learned to share?