1957 Martin Luther King, Jr. preached on “Loving Your Enemies” at the
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. As he came to the
end of his sermon, he said there is a little tree planted on a little
hill and on that tree hangs the most influential person who ever came
into this world. In the cross of Christ, the love of God has broken
through into human history. Now we know what love looks like in a world
filled with hatred, distrust, bitterness, pain, mistreatment and abuse.
As the hymn writer said, “See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.” It is a message from God that love
is the only way. It’s the only way to heaven, and it’s the only way to
live on the earth. If we believe in Jesus at all, we must say to our
enemies, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” When Jesus
walks with us, we will find the strength to love our enemies, to bless
those who curse us, and to pray for those who despitefully use us.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28).
Don’t get even with your enemies. Ask God to bless them instead. If you can let go of your anger long enough to pray like this, you will discover a wonderful benefit. When you pray for grace for others, you put yourself in a position to receive it yourself.
Let me offer one further thought. Your enemy is a gift from God to you.
Though you don’t know it and often can’t see it, the person who has
hurt you so deeply is a gift from God to you. To say that is not to
excuse evil or to condone mistreatment. It is to say exactly what
Joseph meant when he said to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good”
(Genesis 50:20). Our enemies humble us, they keep us on our knees, they
reveal our weakness, and they expose our total need for God. Just as
David needed King Saul to pursue him, to persecute him and repeatedly
attempt to kill him, we need the enemies God sends to us. If we didn’t
need them, he wouldn’t send them. Therefore, we thank God who knows
best, and we love our enemies the best way we can. Often God raises up an enemy to see if we really want to be like Jesus. He will keep our enemies alive and well as long as we need them.
Jesus had enemies. They killed him. He loved them anyway. Do you want to be like Jesus?
Lord, you loved me while I was your enemy. You came for me when I was
running away. May your love fill my heart so that what you have done
for me, I may do for others. Amen.