Lord, we endeavor to follow all of Your injunctions, regardless of difficulty.
Read LUKE 6:27–36
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Help me, Lord, to be more like You… [with] genuine love for others… to see Your image in all people” (John Calvin, 1509–1564).
Loving our enemies and turning the other cheek— these are well-known instructions yet they are so difficult to put into practice. Retaliation is part of all primitive and modern legal codes, including the “eye for an eye” of the Mosaic Law (Matt. 5:38, KJV; cf. Lev. 24:20 and Deut. 19:21). Jesus, however, forbids us as individuals to retaliate. What does turning the other cheek and giving the thief an extra garment mean in real life? “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19, KJV; cf. Deut. 32:25), but we cannot be naive about enforcement. The state is commissioned by God to deal with murder, sexual abuse, theft, etc.—but we are called to practice forbearance and nonviolence in our personal interactions with those who would harm us and our churches. Is that sometimes impossible?
How should the Christians in Mosul have reacted when they were being beheaded and their children slaughtered? There is no immediate answer, but Jesus still calls both them and us to embrace nonviolence, not to seek revenge and to love our enemies. I am awed by Christians who suffer so terribly yet manage to carry out what Jesus requires. After a recent bombing of Coptic churches in Egypt, Christian women took food parcels to poor Muslims. I was privileged to meet Coptic Pope Tawadros II in Australia recently. A TV journalist asked how he felt about Muslim terrorists. He said his only emotion towards them was love and that the church bombings had given some people a shorter journey to heaven. What an answer!
Note that Jesus’ words about poverty and nonviolence are juxtaposed here. There is a cause-and-effect relationship between materialism, oppression of the poor and the presumption that problems can be settled by violence. Jesus calls us to be imaginative, proactively choosing nonviolent responses to acts which so terribly hurt society’s poorest and most vulnerable.
“Goodness is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Light is stronger than darkness. Life is stronger than death. Victory is ours through him who loves us” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu, b. 1931).
Lord, You are merciful to Your enemies, and our enemies are Your enemies. Please give us the grace to deal with them in a way pleasing to You.
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