Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Speak well of those who curse you.
If there are “go to” topics that we constantly hear about in church circles, loving our enemies has to be one of those spouted the most. Least lived out, if I may dare say, but most spouted. This one, loving our enemies makes us feel good because it sort of gives us permission to have enemies at all – as long as we find a way to love ‘em…. in the words of Prince Charles: “whatever ‘love’ is”.
The “Do good to those who hate you” portion of that scripture is a little more painful. What? You mean I gotta be nice? To him? But he… But God if you only know what he did to me…
And the “Speak well of those who curse you” part – dang it, now that’s just not fair. That means no gossiping about that person who did you wrong or going around and telling your side of the story of how they messed up your life, even if it’s just in defense of your character or reputation. Speaking well of the very person that spoke horrible of us – that’s not easy. I mean, people say some really horrible things.
Good grief, when we have to deal with our enemies in such a loving way, it sort of makes this whole following Christ thing a little more uncomfortable and may make use wish for an escape hatch from time to time. Not an escape from Christ, just some of the less appealing things that he asks of us.
Loving our enemies. Smh.
I’ve talked about forgiveness. Not once, not twice but three times. So, if you need help in that area, maybe go check out those posts. As always, if you read them you’ll notice I was preaching to myself while writing them. It’s still a struggle for me and always will be. It’s my hiccup, my trigger, the thorn in my side so to speak. Just when I think I’ve got this walking with God thing figured out, it’s the thing that makes me trip and fall flat on my face.
But today, I want to talk about the other enemy we’re supposed forgive and love and speak nicely of and not dis. What enemy is that, you ask?
Some of the things I’ve heard said about me from others, don’t come close to some of the things I’ve said about myself, if we were to rate them on a condemnation scale. Like some of you, I think I’m probably harder on myself, more impatient, more hostile, more hateful and more unforgiving of myself than anyone else out there could ever be. Mostly because it’s the voice of THE enemy in my head and I choose to believe every stinkin’ lie he’s whispering. I accept them as truth and become my own worst enemy.
I shouldn’t have said that…. done that…. thought that…. I should’ve done this… or that…. or maybe that other thing…. Man, I hate myself for doing that. I’m an idiot. I’m weak. I’m lazy. I’m horrible. I’m ugly. I’m fat. I’m… .
Really, do I need to continue? You’ve got your own tapes playing in your head. You know them well.
What if, when we were told to love our enemies, Jesus knew that he was talking as much about loving ourselves, doing loving things for ourselves and speaking nicely of ourselves – than of others?
Maybe he knew that loving and forgiving ourselves would put us in a better position and frame of mind to then turn around and offer that same gift to someone else.
Maybe he knew that what he was asking, if applied to ourselves, was more difficult than doing it for others… and more beneficial.
Maybe he knew that if we discovered the ability to forgive ourselves, love ourselves, speak kindly of ourselves and such, that we would experience more joy. More freedom. More blessing. More love for others.
He’s a smart one, that Jesus.
When we loath ourselves, we can’t help but loath others. And it shows. All the makeup in a Cover Girl warehouse can’t cover hateful. Especially when it’s self-hatred that’s behind the mask of creams, powders and sparkle.
The Lord asked us to be his hands and feet in a hurting and broken world, and guess what? We are that hurting and broken world. If we can’t find a way to, through Christ, heal and repair, then how can we help others? How can we expect to truly love those who need the love of Christ if we ourselves haven’t even truly accepted it?
It’s through Christ that we are able to love ourselves. It’s through being in the Word and learning truth about Him and ourselves, that we can begin to speak kind words, true words, over ourselves. It’s when the Holy Spirit is alive and active in our lives that we treat ourselves with love, patience, understanding and grace.
Okay, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna give that old example that we’re always given: When we’re in a plane, they tell us that in case of an emergency place the oxygen mask on who first? Ourselves. Only then do we turn and help the less capable person next to us.
Well, here we are. You’re the more capable one. You’ve accepted the Lord into your life. He is alive and active and moving through you. It’s time to take care of yourself so you can then turn and help the less capable… the lost… the suffering… those who need to experience the true love of Christ.
A true love of Christ that you must first accept for yourself and believe for yourself.
Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Speak well of those who curse you. – Even when that enemy is you.