“But I tell you, love your enemies…” ~Jesus
Jesus is patient with His enemies, so we should be too. That’s the hard part. When I first decided to really dig my heels in and get to know Christ each day, through studying His Word, reading Christian books, and allowing myself to be taught by grace-filled teachers, it was extremely difficult to change my mindset.
I WAS LOOKING FOR GOD TO FIX MY PROBLEMS–not change me. “*Pfft*! I’m just fine, it’s everybody else who needs to shape up!”
My unrenewed mindset was: Work hard. Play hard. Love those who love me. Hate those who hate me. And yeah, I was a saved Christian. God was in me, but I refused to allow Him to come out of me through my words, choices, and actions.
The fact of the matter was, I WAS HURTING! I was hurting so badly when I first began to dedicate a part of my day to getting to know Jesus better. And because of this deep pain inside me which was caused by others–all the while I overlooked my bad choices–I started to search for Bible verses where God made people pay for their wrong-doings! I’d even screen-shot it!
Stuff like, “‘Leave room for God’s wrath, it is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (see Romans 12:19)
I was like, “SWEET! GET ‘EM!”
My thought process was, “Okay God, I’m doing this religious stuff for you now, so I need you to get so-and-so real good. Pay them back for me, get YOUR revenge FOR me, and do it quickly!”…I chuckle at this now, even typing that, because it’s true.
God soon taught me that He was much more interested in renewing my mind and my life into that of Christ’s, than He was in personally settling-up debts with my enemies–as if He was my Heavenly Hitman.
Oh my goodness I wanted God to MAKE THESE PEOPLE PAY!!!!!
I’d say things like, “You see what they’re doing, how can you just let this happen?! C’MON! DO SOMETHING! Show them that me following you is better than them not!”
God simply said, “… … … Nope.”
“Well…FINE! Then at least MAKE them treat me good!”
“No. I don’t make people do anything. I give them opportunities to change, just like I’m giving you. They can choose to, or not.”
“Then what’s the point of me doing this?! WHY AM I SEEKING YOU? I thought you were working all things out together for my good! CAN’T YOU SEE I’M IN PAIN?! DO SOMETHING!”
“I am doing something. I’m working out the goodness in you.”
“But it’s so hard…”
“I know…you’re gonna be okay. I’m showing you what Jesus went through, for you. Keep going. My power is made perfect in your weakness. I’ll never leave you or forsake you. I’m teaching you how to no longer be a slave to your circumstances or the choices of people.”
My friend, God is much more concerned about getting you to understand how much Jesus loves you through the pain of doing things His way, than removing your pain, instantly. He sees the good that will eventually come from your pain, just like He saw the good that would eventually come from Jesus’. This is the exact reason why we shouldn’t question God in our bad times, just like we would never question Him in our good times.
No, He doesn’t cause the pain, but He allows it. He allows it to show you how to handle your problems like Jesus did–and how He still does.
You see, we naturally want to ATTACK those who attack us. Jesus doesn’t do this. He is patient with those who hate Him. This is the very reason why He hasn’t come back yet, He is still giving everyone a chance to turn to Him and place their faith in Him–to believe in Him. The Bible says that “he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool” (see Hebrews 10:13).
He’s waiting…He’s patient…
He’s taking His time to come back, and to conquer all evil, permanently. He’s giving people the chances, the opportunities, everything they could ever need to turn to Him. Grandma used to say, “There won’t be anyone in heaven who doesn’t want to be there.” That could be no further from the truth. God doesn’t force people to enter into a relationship with Him, He waits. He lets them choose to love Him, or not.
And just how will people even want to go to heaven if we aren’t properly representing Jesus? It’s up to me and you to actually show people Christ, every day! NOT RELIGION, BUT RELATIONSHIP! We must use our gifts, talents, time, and resources to show others the love of Christ! Sometimes, we don’t even have to say a word, but instead, just be available…that’s it.
And part of this “showing” of Jesus includes being patient with our enemies. It includes showing love to those who don’t love us. It includes overcoming evil with good and doing our very best to walk in the confidence that is Christ in us!
So today my friends, please do this: Love those who hate you. How? By bowing down to them? Did Jesus do this? No, but He still had genuine love in His heart toward us. We, you and I, were the ones who hated Him! Yes! We were! Even if we don’t realize it, we hated Jesus because we refused to believe that what He did was not the truth! But still, He prayed for us, He sacrificed everything for us–and then He set the example for us to follow, with grace and confidence. “But Matt you just don’t understand! I’m not loving anyone who doesn’t love me!” Well just imagine if Jesus had that same mindset…we’d all be doomed. But He didn’t! And because He lives in you, you can do this too!
A prayer for you: Jesus, today I ask you to show us how to love people like you do. With an unrenewed mind, this is an impossible feat. But you did the impossible all the time–AND YOU LIVE IN US! You set the standard for us and then you gave us the ability to do everything you did, because of your grace! Renew our thinking to be like yours! Help us to tap into your amazing grace to strengthen us, and to teach us how to love those who don’t love us. We want to allow you to live through us, so that we can change the world with your love! Thank you, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!