Inspired by Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:43-45 (NRSV)
It is logical to be kind to those who are kind to you, and to wish ill on those who wish ill on you. But such logic is contrary to the will of God.
For all that we want God to punish those who work against us, the truth is that he continues to grace them with his blessings. They have just as much access to the abundant resources of his good creation as we do, and sometimes it seems as though their evil deeds are rewarded at our expense. Feelings of resentment on our part are understandable, for what is the point of following God if those who don’t bother with him get the same benefits as we do?
The point is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God met our rejection with acceptance, our hate with love, our sinfulness with forgiveness, and our apathy with care. It was this refusal to recognize us as the enemy we had declared ourselves that allowed us to become his beloved children. Had he recognized us as his enemy, then we would have remained his enemy forever, and been doomed.
Everyone we see as an enemy is a potential brother or sister. If you treat them as an enemy then they will likely remain so, and you will both suffer from your adversarial relationship. But if you treat them as a neighbor, showing them the love that God has shown you, then perhaps they may begin to recognize his grace and turn from enemy to neighbor.
Let us pray. Lord of all, your abundant grace covers the world. Enable us to see your hope in others, that we may treat all your people with grace and kindness. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.