By: Meghan DeWeerd
The world we live in tells us it's okay to hate our enemies. When someone hurts us, it’s socially acceptable for us to loathe them, wish them ill, and even seek vengeance if and when possible. This is glorified in books and movies, and we see it on social media all the time. We will certainly come up against those who will hurt us, and God's Word tells us we will have enemies. But, as followers of Jesus, how we react to being hurt should look very different.
Recently, I noticed my time spent on social media gravitated towards ‘revenge stories’, and the more I heard them, the more I seemed to agree with these people who were getting back at their enemies. I started thinking it was okay. I was giving in to the temptation of hating your enemy.
Shortly after, God convicted me that not only should I not be agreeing with these stories, but I am called to do the very opposite of what I thought was a ‘right’ of someone who has been hurt. God is very clear about how we should react and what is expected of a life surrendered to Jesus.
When we succumb to the temptation of hating our enemy, we are actually breaking the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13 NIV). You may be thinking to yourself, ‘How am I breaking the sixth commandment? I haven’t killed anyone!’ But this commandment is more than just a physical action. It’s a heart matter. The wicked root of murder is anger and hate. Jesus teaches us this in Matthew 5:21-22 (NLT):
“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
I was reading my One Minute with God calendar the other day, and it correlated with what Jesus taught. It mentioned this: “Sin doesn’t begin when a person does the wrong thing. It begins when the idea or feeling knocks on the door of her heart and she chooses to entertain it.” It was accompanied with this piece of Scripture: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:14-15 (NASB1995).
So, as sinners saved by grace, what is expected from us as we battle the very same temptations? What can we do to prevent ourselves from disobeying God's commands, especially when it is easier said than done?
First, we put our trust in God. Trusting in God means letting go of our own wishes and wants and knowing He is in control, no matter the circumstance.
Second, we continue to dwell in God’s Word and look at Jesus’ example. Jesus Christ washed the feet of Judas the week He was betrayed and was to die on the cross. He did it knowing Judas would betray Him.
Third, we surround ourselves with other believers who can hold us accountable.
What would Jesus do? What did Jesus do? He loved them anyway.
“But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Luke 6:35-36 NASB
“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 makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:43-48 ESV
Lord God, I pray You forgive us of our sins. You know our hearts more than we do. I ask that You cleanse us of our sins and our struggles in our walk with Christ. Lord God, I thank You for sending Your Son and having Him take our place on the cross, to save us from an eternity away from You. I ask that You help us to trust in You, Lord God, since it was finished on the cross, and there is nothing we need to worry about. You come before all things. Lord, help us to rely on You and continue to have a changed heart. I pray for all of these things in Your precious and holy name. Amen.