Jesus tells us to love even our enemies. Solomon does too but the way they say it is a little different. Whatever gets you there, love anyway.
In Luke 6:27-36 Jesus teaches His disciples, and those gathered around, that they are commanded to rise to a higher standard of love. Those who follow Him are to love even those who mistreat them; their enemies. This is the famous “turn the other cheek” teaching that even the world knows of. His teaching flew in the face of the “an eye for an eye” standard expressed in the Law. But it didn’t contradict God’s wisdom.
“An eye for an eye” was a legal standard for receiving justice. It was considered fair. There is nothing ‘fair’ about letting someone get away with mistreating someone else. It’s just wrong. But if God were being ‘fair’ we would all be smoking cinders! EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US has wronged Him in some way. We have wronged others and have been wronged by others. His wisdom commands us to move beyond ‘fair’. And His wisdom isn’t just words we are told to follow. He gave us examples ALL ALONG THE WAY.
From the moment Adam and Eve sinned until the foundation of the New Jerusalem is inhabited by His children, God has shown us His love and mercy. He has shown love to those who would have Him as an enemy; to those who hate Him, curse Him, and spitefully use His name. For to love sin is to hate God.
Even then, He loved anyway!
Solomon tells us that we are to help our enemy if we see he has a need. Feed him if he is hungry. Give him a drink if he is thirsty. Why would you want to do this? Solomon’s words make it appear as if you are punishing your enemy by doing this, but look deeper. The “burning coals” you are heaping on his head aren’t meant to burn him up but to make his heart burn with curiosity.
“How can he still do good to me after all I have done to him?” “Where does his strength come from?” “How can I have this strength too?”
The “coals” set a fire in his heart that leads him to ONE conclusion; his enemy is stronger. With every act of kindness shown to those who mistreat you, your testimony grows. No. We are NOT being told to get down and ‘lick his boots’ and build him up by letting him walk all over us. What we are being commanded to do is, if you see a need in your enemy, meet it without expectation of a return. Love as God loves. He LOVES even those who will continue to hate Him, to curse Him, and to spitefully use His name.
No. This world is NOT ‘fair’. There will be those who will never recognize the reason behind your gift of love and forgiveness. But it is not their understanding that is the reason for our action. It is because God FIRST loved us. How can we do any less for others? We can also be CERTAIN that God will balance ALL THING in the end. Let Him worry about justice. And God will reward us for the love we show; deserved and undeserved.
Father God, help me to show love, even to those who are hardest to love. Thank You for giving me a tender heart. I have already, at least in part, both failed and succeed in this command. You know the specific person I’m thinking of. The one who made life VERY miserable for so many years for my oldest son and her own daughter. So many times, I wanted to reach out to her in love. I could see the loss her actions were causing her. But every time I was ready to act, she would do something else. Those actions prompted me to pull back again. She died, never seeing her grandchildren again. And I FAILED in actually showing her acts of love. I felt them (my ‘success’), but I never carried them out (my abject failure). Forgive me Father. Now it is too late for her.
I KNOW You have other opportunities waiting for me to practice Your love. Help me succeed the next times. Help me show Your love to those who need it the most; those who would never expect it. As a testament to the love YOU have showered on me.