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Love our enemies, huh?
- Jacob Ninan
There are enemies all around us, even though some Christians boast, "I have no enemies!" I think this is because of poor semantics, or a lack of proper definition. If we define enemies as those waiting to kill us, or people in that class, maybe most of us can say we have no enemies. But if we think of 'enemies' so as to include those who oppose us, cause us trouble, irritate us, cheat or deceive us, use us, criticise us, hurt us, insult us, ignore us, etc.,--meaning those who are doing the opposite of blessing us--immediately we have to include a whole lot of people, including some of our closest ones who can be inimical to our interest at times! To love them means to be patient with them, not to get provoked by them, to do them good instead, etc. (1Co.13:4-8). It is a fantastic standard--meaning it seems to involve fantasy! Who is adequate for such things?
Some people think of some particularly bad experience they have had and conclude that it is not possible to love their enemies, and actually treat it as a fantastic demand Jesus is making (Mt.5:43,44). Some others struggle to be loving in different situations and find themselves unable. Still some others find some peculiar way of explaining Scripture to believe that they do love everyone. But when we look at the way God loves us, and what He has said in His word about how our love ought to be, we see there is nothing for us to do but to seek for His love to be poured out into our hearts (Ro.5:5).
Think of how many people have been drawn to God by seeing some of His children. Invariably it is because they (the people) saw something in these Christians that was extraordinary. They wondered at the inexplicable form of love in these Christians. How did we ourselves get to God except by seeing His amazing love for people like us! Then we can see how poor we are as God's representatives or witnesses when we fail to show His love to others in different circumstances. When we get 'easily provoked,' 'lose our patience,' 'cannot overlook a wrong suffered,' etc., how can we expect others to see Jesus in us?
Can we cover up this lack with other things such as Christian activities, knowledge, exercise of gifts, etc.? Unfortunately, no (1Co.13:1-3). All such things can give us an outward appearance, but inside we are hollow! Those of us who are active in 'ministry' stand specially in danger of thinking that the anointing in ministry is an indication that God is pleased with us, even when we know that there is hollowness inside.
We can do many things with the talents and gifts that God has given us. But when it comes to love, we see that we cannot produce it or even 'act' it out. We really need the Holy Spirit to pour it into our hearts (Ro.5:5). What we can do is to present an empty vessel to Him and ask Him to pour it in. We won't do it as long as we don't recognise the emptiness or acknowledge it. But our trust is that for all who ask, He is delighted to answer that cry (Lk.11:13).