Have you ever had an enemy? Have you ever had someone to try to do harm to you? Anyone ever tried to cheat you out of something? Treated you unfriendly or disrespectfully? Most people have probably had at least one of those scenarios occur to them, if not all of them. If you haven’t, just be ready. It will eventually come your way in life.
So how are we to respond to these situations where another- er human has done something wrong to you intentionally? Well, the human instinct or the world’s way of handling this situation is to immediately retaliate or exact revenge on the person that has harmed you. “Revenge is sweet,” is often the motto to many after they have been harmed. We immediately conjure up thoughts of how are we going to get this person back for what they have done to us.
But this isn’t the way Jesus taught his disciples to treat those that did harm to them, cheat them, or intentionally try to hurt them. In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus is teaching in His sermon on the mount that the way to deal with these people that intentionally harm or hurt you (enemies) is to love them.
Now just imagine the thoughts that were going through His audience’s heads after Jesus said they were to love their enemies. The audience was used to hearing they should love their neighbor and hate their enemy. Now Jesus is teaching the exact opposite of what the other religious establishment had been teaching.
Jesus teaches that His disciples should love, forgive, and pray for their enemies. We should never love the sin or hate that a person displays towards another human. But we should always love the person. No matter what they might do. Forgiving our enemies is more about relieving a burden from ourselves than what it actually does for our enemy. Do you know it is actually quite difficult to stay angry or mad at someone after you have prayed for them. You should try it sometime.
Revenge might be sweet in the moment, but we as Christians are not to live for the moment. We are to live for eternity. Jesus teaches that we should love, forgive, and pray for our enemies if we want to live for eternity with Him.