“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27–31, NIV84)
These words of Jesus are challenging to our reason and our sense of fairness and justice. Why should anyone open themselves up to the abuses that come from an enemy? Enemies are called enemies because they intentionally work to hurt you. Jesus is telling us in these verses to love them and to pray for them. Jesus accepts the hatred and hurt as a given and still exhorts us to love and pray for them rather than respond with equal hatred and hurt. What about “eye for an eye” and “tooth for a tooth”? Again, what about fairness and justice? Our enemies do not deserve the love and prayers that Jesus exhorts us to exhibit. So what is Jesus’ point? How can He justifiably ask us to do something so unreasonable?
Because He does it! “God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) While we were enemies of God, He redeemed and saved us. The nature of God is to love the unlovable. While our every intention was to do God harm and to live our lives as though we were God, it was not justice that He exhibited. It was grace. God sent His Son into a hostile and wicked world to redeem and save it even though it was an enemy to Him. So, in these verses Jesus is telling us that in order to have an impact on this wicked and sinful world in which we live, we must love it as He loves us. Just as Jesus’ love has made a profound difference in our lives, by loving our enemies and praying for them, we can make a profound difference in their lives. We don’t want to risk eternal reconciliation for momentary justice.
So, today, let’s love and pray for our enemies instead of seeking judgment and payback.