Love Your Enemies
I work downtown and often have to go to court for my job. On my path, there are 2 areas that have a cloud of swarming flies I have to either walk through or find a way around. Those who’ve been to my home can tell you, I hate flies. I have a full on visceral reaction when dealing with flies, and take delight in their destruction. I’m sure I look like a crazy person, wildly waving my accordion file as I walk through the cloud, tight lipped and eyes half closed since the whites of my eyes and back of my throat seem to be what they’re most interested in. Just thinking about it makes me squirm.
Yesterday, swatting these flies away made me think of another event from last week, where a pugnacious former friend attacked me with venomous words out of the blue, like a gnat flying into my eye. I wanted to swat her away, but instead of striking out, I moved past, and utilized a physical block to prevent her continued assault.
There are a lot of people who will tell you to harbor deserved animosity against those who hurt you. To keep receipts to shame them with later in the event you need to protect yourself. Then there are those who will tell you don’t let people rent space in your head if they have nothing to offer you and to just forget about them. And honestly, I wish I could tell you in good conscience to crush your enemies so that none other may dare rise against you, because that’s my fleshly baggage.
But Jesus tells us to love our enemies by doing good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us and praying for those who mistreat us, because the grace of God is for all. I won’t pretend that this is easy, but having been someone who once prided themselves at being the least forgiving person you would ever meet, I can tell you it’s possible and more than possible, it’s transformative. I once had a tongue like a sword, and it made me feel safe and powerful, but a time came in my walk with God where I if I wanted to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus, I had to lay down my right to hate those who hurt me.
Since then, I have been infused with what I can only describe as Divine Compassion, which has enabled me to act on opportunities to do good to those who hate me and bless those who’ve cursed me, even those that I cannot for safety reasons be reconciled to, not through gritted teeth, not for the purpose of heaping burning coals on their heads, but because the grace of God is for all. I’ve also been able to not hold onto the individual offences committed against me, because I understand Jesus doesn’t keep receipts, and my offenses are not what define me, no matter what my Accuser would remind me of. God has a greater story thread of redemption for all of us who want it, truly no matter what we have done in our past.
I pray today, you are empowered to receive such grace, and then are given the opportunity to open your hands and extend it to those who need it.