Week of June 10, 2019
Devotional and Reading Plan
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27
Jesus didn’t say this lightly or to sound nice. He was serious. He meant it. He was radical and bold and counter-cultural at every turn. You see, our culture tells us to retaliate, get revenge, talk bad about, and mistreat our enemies. Jesus said to love them. Our flesh wants to puff up with pride, think we’re better than, and make ourselves out to be perfect next to our flawed, sinful enemies. But Jesus said to love them.
Impoverished children in Vietnam, or the sweet elderly lady who lives across the street, or your best friend. These are the ones we have no problem loving. But what about your dad who skipped out on most of your life? What about your racist uncle? The coworker that got you fired? The so-called friend who stabbed you in the back? Jesus said to love them. We don’t get to decide who to love and who not to love. We love them all. We feed, clothe and quench the thirst of those who are in need, whether they’re a friend or an enemy. We are supposed to love the ones that look, think and live different than us. And nothing less.
It doesn't take much for us to love our friends and family who love us. That's what Jesus was getting at. It's easy, human nature to love those who love us and treat us well. What's radical and life changing is loving those who persecute you. Loving those who have wronged you. Loving those who did the unthinkable. Jesus said your reward would be great if you love your enemies.
I can't think of one reason, if I were standing before God, that would seem to justify why I didn't love my enemies while on earth. "Well, Jesus, I didn't love her because she didn't agree with me about immigration laws." Or, "I didn't love him because he flew a confederate flag in his yard." Or, "It was impossible to love him because he never paid child support." Jesus prayed for the very people that were actively nailing Him to the cross. This account is a sobering reminder of how deep our love should run. We are all the "enemy" at times. Jesus died for every one of us.
I recently marveled as I read about the family whose young son was thrown from three stories high at a shopping mall. As the man who critically injured and nearly killed their son was sentenced to prison, the family forgave him and though they did not excuse him from his crime or the tragedy he caused, they hoped he would somehow find Jesus. That sounds a lot like living out the "love your enemies" sermon that Jesus gave.
It's time to discover freedom through Love. The reality is that loving our enemies isn't the easy thing to do. It doesn't come natural. We want to resist extending our precious love to those who are undeserving. But when we pray and ask God to help us have a love that is more unconditional and transcends worldly circumstances, we can begin to open our hearts even to our enemies with His strength. Let go of the letdowns, the disappointments, the grudges, the revenge, the expectations, the bitterness, the anger, the hate. Let go and live your life to the fullest as someone who loves like Jesus told us to love. Let God search your heart. Examine your thoughts and attitudes toward others, especially your enemies. Who do you need to release? Who do you need to forgive? What do you need to let go of so that you can love all people deeply?
Choose love every single time. That’s the way of the Lord. That’s the life we should follow. You will be set free from all sorts of pain and chaos when you choose to love.
This Week’s Reading Plan
As you read the following passages this week, ask yourself these questions:
1) What verse comforts me that I can commit to memory?
2) What word or phrase stands out?
3) What am I learning about God from this?
4) How can I apply this to my life today?
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