Who Is the Real “Enemy”?

Jesus’ words strike to the core of our heart. He exposes our inability to love the unlovely, much less to love those who hate us or hurt us. In the previous verses, He told His disciples not to resist one who is evil. Now He demands something even harder: An active attitude of kindness for those who are mean or uncaring towards us. His reason? That we may be like our Father in heaven, who bestows earthly benefits on “good” and “bad” people alike. If we think about it, God has treated us the way Jesus tells us to treat others: “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son”(Romans 5:10). How can we do less for others? Perhaps more than any other command, this requirement that we love those who do not love us, or who do not treat us well, demonstrates just why we needed Christ to die for us. More than that, our ongoing difficulty in loving the unlovely proves how much we stand in need of daily forgiveness by God. How do we usually respond to those who do not love us? By withdrawal, coldness, anger, bitterness, resentment. Does this not reveal the essential lack of love in our own hearts? Does that not disqualify us from a critical attitude towards our “enemies”? Notice the application of this teaching to marriage and family relationships. So often, we are disappointed and hurt when those closest to us do not satisfy our desires for affection and care. But then our response puts us into the same category! In fact, perhaps they are not as good to us as we would like partly because we have in some way also disappointed them? Jesus will not let us linger in the realm of self-pity; he absolutely forbids self-righteousness. He will have our full obedience, preceded by our humble admission that we, too, are “enemies” who desperately need His constant love.