Tough Love

Journal Entry // January 9, 2022

“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,

Matthew 5:43-44 ESV

Yet again Jesus brings his counter-cultural teaching to expose the self-centeredness of worldly wisdom and our sinful nature. We believe that since we are a modern society with advanced technology that we have everything figured out. But this statement from Jesus cuts just as deep and precise as it did 2,000 years ago. Do I love my enemies? Do I pray for those that persecute me? That sounds almost repugnant to my ears. Why in the world would I ever love my enemies and pray for them? It’s quite the opposite in fact. Like Jonah refusing to preach to the Ninevites, I want my enemies to taste the full wrath of God. It’s this heart attitude that Jesus speaks his gentle command of love and prayer for my enemies.

We all want to love those that love us. We want to be friends with people like us. We want to associate with people like us. So we section ourselves off into political factions, denominational factions, racial factions, economic factions, social factions, cultural factions, and even sports factions. We deem those outside of our faction as unworthy or the enemy or somehow beneath my faction… The right faction. And if you’re not with me, then your against me.

This is not the way of Christ. The way of Christ is to love those who hate me. Did Jesus love his enemies? I know so… Since I was once his enemy. Jesus loved and prayed for his enemies repeatedly. How did he love people? He spent time with them. He listened to them. He understood them. He shared the gospel with them. This is the life he calls me to.

My enemies are not really my enemies. Not like I want to define it anyway. My enemies are just like me. They need the good news of salvation through Jesus alone. How do I love people? The same way Jesus did. I need to spend time with them. I don’t need to segragate and isolate myself from those that are different or those I don’t like or understand. I need to engage with people, all people.

Love and pray for them. How does my heart change and soften toward these enemies? Prayer is the answer. Not only am I praying for God to work in their heart, but in mine as well. I want my heart to beat in rhythm with Christ. His heart is that all people will come to him. I want my heart to yearn for the lost. Not just figuratively in a theoretical way, but in a way where I put my faith into action by engaging with all the people God puts in my life. Those who I like and are easy to get on with as well as those who don’t like me or maybe I don’t like or agree with.

Change my heart dear Lord. Soften my prideful attitude. Give me a heart for all people. Give me the love of Jesus overflowing from a joyful heart full of Jesus. Secure and safe in his love.

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