Crossroads: Love Your Enemy

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Matthew 5:38-48

Your Story

Have you ever experienced an unexpected good deed from someone you considered an enemy? If so, talk about that experience. If not, talk about a time when you chose to show love instead of hate to someone you felt had wronged you.

My Story and the Bible Story

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth” (Matthew 5:38). Many of us live our lives in this way. All you have to do is watch the news to see people responding in this way. Someone is attacked and their country responds with war. Someone is made fun of and they respond by attacking others. This way of living leads to violence and fear. Ghandi said it best when he said “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” When we strike back at someone, all we do is continue the cycle. Imagine this: Someone makes a hateful comment on a picture on your Instagram or Facebook. It makes you angry, so you hit back with an equally hateful comment. That person responds again and, suddenly, you are arguing in the picture’s comments. Or maybe someone steals your favorite toy. You finally get it back, but you are angry and you want that person to hurt like you did, so you take something of theirs. Then maybe they push you down for taking it and, suddenly, you are fighting. There’s a better, but harder, way to live.

Read Matthew 5:38-48. From The Message: Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. ‘You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and the nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. ‘In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live our your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

“But Jesus,” we want to say, “surely you don’t mean that I can’t defend myself? That person hurt me and I want to make sure they don’t do it again.” There are times when we have to stand up for ourselves. But here’s the difference: we are called to love everyone. Everyone, not just the people that we like. Think about God for a minute. God loves every single one of us. It does not matter what you have done or not done; God loves you. And God loved the people who put Jesus on that cross. Jesus died asking God to forgive the people who killed him. God gives his best to every single one of us, whether we are lovable or not.

One of the hardest parts about being a Christian is loving our enemies. It is hard to love someone who is mean to you. In fact, we can’t do it by ourselves. But Jesus isn’t telling us to. He says, “when someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.” God created us for love, not for hate. So the next time someone does something unloving or that makes you angry, pray for that person. Ask God for help in loving them. And then you will be doing what God wants you to do, living “generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Discussion

• Ask your children to talk about times when they felt like someone was their enemy. How did they respond? Role play ways to respond differently, ways that show love to our “enemies.”
• Talk about ways that we can show love to others when they aren’t very lovable.
• Who do you know who doesn’t seem lovable?

Prayer

Ask God for help in loving everyone. Ask God for help in seeing God’s face in others.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

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