Enemies

Do you have enemies? Join the club! If you think it’s possible to live life without enemies, you are only fooling yourself.

Jesus lived a perfect life, but he still had enemies. People were constantly plotting to discredit and kill him. Matthew 10:36 says that in some cases “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

It is still good to avoid making enemies.Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

But the real question is what to do with enemies once you’ve got them. The Bible is clear on that too. Jesus teaches his followers, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44); “do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).

How is that possible? Don’t human beings naturally fight back when they are attacked?

The only time you will have the strength to love your enemies is when you are still secure despite being attacked. The only way to have perfect security is to get it from Jesus himself.

Jesus had many human enemies, but because he loved them, he defeated the most menacing enemies that all humans face: sin, death and the devil. Jesus defeated sin for us by refusing to sin in the face of temptation (Hebrews 4:15). He defeated death for us by rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). By his perfect life and his rising from the dead, he defeated the devil for us as well (Hebrews 2:14, 15).

What Jesus did in our place gives us security. It gives us peace. The love he showed us is the only love strong enough to give us the desire and the ability to love our enemies.

Do you have enemies? We all do! Now you have the opportunity to reflect the love of Jesus in your life, also and especially to your enemies.

Who is my neighbor?

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus once said. But who is your neighbor? Good question.

Someone once asked Jesus that question (Luke 10:29). He responded by telling the story of a traveler who was mugged. Two “respectable” members of the local ethnic majority passed him by on the side of the road. But a third passer-by, a member of a despised ethnic minority, stopped, helped the traveler, and paid for his hospitalization (Luke 10:30-35).

Who was the real neighbor? The one who showed mercy (Luke 10:36,37).

Kind of scary, huh? Do you have to stop for every roadside wreck now in order to be sure of going to heaven?

There is no person alive who has treated his or her neighbors perfectly. Everyone has some selfishness in them. Do we have any hope of heaven?

Not on our own. But there is someone who has treated all of his neighbors perfectly. That person is Jesus. He never sinned once. Everything he did was for other people, not for himself. When it came time to die, Jesus could have chosen not to. But in a last, unselfish act, he died in our place to take the punishment for all of the times we have neglected our neighbors.

Even today, when Jesus sees us mugged on the road of life, he stops, helps us, and reminds us that he has paid the price for us to go to heaven. He has made us more than just his neighbors; he has made us his children.

Who is your neighbor? Jesus. Be glad!