|Love Your Enemies
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you..." (Matt. 5:44).
Love your enemies? How? Why? These questions can only be found by coming face to face with your enemies. But who is my enemy? I didn't think we had many enemies.
A woman in Brazil gave birth to her eighth baby and then watched helplessly as her brother killed itójust as he had killed four of her other children. He was angry at his sister's husband for marrying her. This woman obviously was a believer because it is impossible to love your enemies and continue to let an enemy visit without the love of God inside you.
A woman's husband left her for another woman. She prayed for her ex-husband and his new wife. This woman was a believer, so she shared the Gospel with her former husband's new wife. This is indeed true forgiveness and love for enemies.
My family came face to face with our enemies in March of 2006. For those who don't know, we had five of my siblings unjustly taken from our home by authorities. When Scripture says to love, pray for, and bless enemies, you at times want to do the opposite. We sometimes wanted to strangle and be rude and nasty to our enemies.
It is hard to tell the story of our battle because it is still a painful, opened wound. But I will share two incidents that happened; times when we wanted to strangle our enemies but instead found strength from God to pray for them instead.
Five of my siblings were taken to the doctor and were given immunization shots and had T.B. tests taken. The rest of us were at home just trying to make it through the day (seven of us older children, legal adults, were still at home). Mom had gone to do some shopping, looking for gifts for the kids.
Then Dad received a phone call from our social worker. She told him that the youngest, Landon (he was four at the time), had tested positive for T.B., with the finger test. Dad fell on his face, crying out to God, "Oh, God, they gave my baby T.B.!" As soon as Mom came home, Dad told her. We got in our bus and were on our way to the hospital to have my parents take T.B. testóbut before we got there we found out that no tests could be taken that day. When we got back home, our social worker called again, saying that Landon had a chest X-ray taken which showed he did not have T.B.
Our question at that time was "Why did she do that?" Was Satan using her to cause us to hate our enemies? As for me, personally, I actually felt sorry for this woman. I don't really know why; I can't explain what went through my heart.
Another incident broke our hearts. Picture a beautiful four-year-old, blonde-haired little boy, clinging to his Mama. We were given permission to visit the kids at the office. The visit went fairly well. The children gave us a bunch of cards and letters and got to talk to our brother, Alex, on the phone (he was in the Army and living in Hawaii at the time). At the end of an hour, we were told we had to go.
Landon was clinging to Mom crying, "I want to go home with you. Please take me home with you! I want to go with you. Please, Mommy! Please!"
Mom kept telling him, "I know, baby. You will, but not today. I want you home, too."
We were all crying and kissing and hugging all the kids. As soon as Landon was given to our 16-year-old brother, Jeremy, and we walked out of the room, he started to scream. We heard him over our crying, all the way through the hall and down the stairs. We walked out the door and gathered with our arms around each other, offering prayers of anguish to the Lord. We asked the Lord to let our enemies be haunted by the screams of this precious child. We prayed that He would confound and confuse our enemies.
There were those in the office who claimed to be believers, but it was hard to see that.
God tells us to "bless those who curse you, and pray for those who persecute you." When we do what this Scripture says, and treat our enemies kindly and well, we are truly showing that Jesus is Lord of our lives. The Pharisees taught that we should love those who love us in return. That is the easy part. When God says "love your enemies", He is saying to love the person, not their acts. Jesus wasn't talking about having affection for enemies, but instead an act of the will.
When Jesus died on the cross, He did so for His enemies. When He taught the multitudes, with His enemies present, He did all in love. He wasn't nasty or hateful: He was kind.
I know in my personal life that I don't have this attitude. I have to keep in mind that my enemies are lost and "thy know not what they do." When I think that way, I pity them and feel sympathy and kindness. Act upon those feelings. Give your enemy "something to eat or drink," as it says in one of the Gospels. Buy flowers for themóthey'll be really confused.
Once again, I thank all who have kept my family in prayer. The prayers have been answered. God be glorified!