But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
So often we are faced with loving someone who does not deserve love that day. It could be a spouse, a friend, a child, a parent, but the common theme is that they are not being kind or loving and we do not want to love them in the midst of it. We protest that loving them while their behavior is bad will just encourage them to continue in that behavior. We fight God when He says to love our enemies. “It is impossible!” we cry. And this is true. One of the greatest miracles of Christ’s life in us is to love someone who does not deserve it. I can’t, in my own flesh, do this, and my flesh cries out for justification, for my rights and for feeling vindicated for someone else’s bad behavior towards me. This, however, is not Jesus.
This loving through bad times does not mean that I agree with what the person is doing. Jesus’ love is not based on behavior, but He knows that when I listen to Him and do what is right, I am happier. He loves me regardless, though. There are times that loving someone is speaking up instead of staying quiet and allowing them to continue on in their behavior. However, the love of God stands firm behind them no matter what they choose. This is a hard thing, isn’t it? In fact, it is impossible in our flesh. It is a miracle to love someone who does not deserve it, and with God all things are possible. Some might claim that this is a passive life, allowing Jesus’ Life to be the power to love someone who is hard to love. I would ask you to try it before believing it to be passive! Usually, there is a battle in my mind and heart as I give God all the reasons I shouldn’t extend love to this person. I know He can, but I don’t want Him to—won’t that just encourage the person to be a jerk?? His ways are higher than mine, though, and I have witnessed a person soften and turn because of God’s love showered on them. I have been the receiver of this love, love that I don’t deserve. Mike Wells used to talk about holding a crown over someone’s head and allowing them to grow into it. I want that done for me through all my mistakes, but I protest when He asks me to do the same for someone else. My job is not to judge a person and decide what pieces of their behavior is ok and what I can love them through. Instead, I am to turn my face to my Father and ask Him to be my love for a person who might be my enemy at that moment. The choice in that is the hardest thing. I don’t have the power to do this on my own, but I must choose. Once I have chosen, Jesus’ love pours in all around my choice and makes it possible. The amazing thing is that I feel so much relief. I don’t have to justify myself in all the reasons why I shouldn’t be loving this person and make lists of all the things they have done badly. I can let go of all that and just allow Jesus’ love to flow through to a person who has not done anything to deserve it.
Have you ever felt the peace of God leave you because you refused to love someone who was being a jerk to you? I have been tossed around the sea of frustration and confusion as I fought, unwilling to give up what I saw as my rights and battling with my pride. Then, when I finally yield and allow Him to love through me, the flood of peace surrounds my spirit and I am free. We are not on this planet to decide who should and shouldn’t be loved and how they should be doing better. We are here to know Jesus and to allow others to know Him as He lives through us. While we were His enemies, He died for us. If you think of all the people who hate you and have tried to make you stumble and fail, would you die for them? I sure wouldn’t!! True love is one who lays down his life. I must lay down my rights and judging and protests, and allow Jesus to love my enemy. Sometimes my enemy is my best friend, and perhaps those are harder to love than enemies who are constantly at war with us. Regardless, Jesus is enough for this. Make the choice—Jesus, You have to be the love for this person because I can’t, but I want you to do so. Amen.