“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48
Sometimes following God just…sucks.
Have you ever felt that way? I have a group of people rising up against me, making my life very difficult right now. I want so badly to hold onto anger and bitterness. I want to shout my innocence to the world. I want to unleash every ounce of pent up anger.
And yet I hear the gentle voice of God say, “Love. Love your enemies. Love them well. Do it my way.”
Sometimes I simply don’t want to do it His way.
When I started writing, I quickly learned that criticism went hand-in-hand with being in the public eye. Because I write so often on divorce, I frequently have those who are holier than me who like to make sure I know I am a false teacher, purporting a doctrine that will destroy me and those to whom I write. I frequently have to remind myself that these people are clinging to a human interpretation of scripture…which means a fallible interpretation. Truth be told, none of us knows the exact interpretation this side of heaven. We simply have to take the Bible, study it carefully, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and use the greater context of scripture to determine the interpretation.
And the greater context of scripture is that of a loving, gracious God who forgives every sin, who sets captives free, who came to give us abundant life.
Yes, God hates sin. He hates divorce. He also hates greed. He hates arrogance. He hates lust. He hates every sexual sin. He hates unforgiveness. He hates gluttony. And He hates pride.
Why does He hate these things so much? Because they separate us from Him, a holy God who cannot look on sin. Because they cause so much devastation and destruction to His children, and His Father heart breaks when we hurt because of our own stupidity.
But in His grace, He looks down and scoops us up into His arms and restores us. Gives us new life. Helps us see that His way is the best way. He takes even our most horrible, miserable failures and uses them to mold us into His image. He takes our messes and gives us a ministry.
And I am so thankful for His grace.
But the enemies I fight today are not strangers who are accusing me of being a false teacher. They aren’t names lurking behind a computer screen, searching the internet for people like me proclaiming a different interpretation of scripture.
They are people I know. People I love. People I gave so much of my life to.
People who now believe lies about me.
I’ve spent many hours crying over the bitter attacks, struggling to understand why they would turn against me. My heart breaks over the hatred, the venomous attacks. I’m so tired and weary from the battle.
And I want to lash out.
I want to return evil for evil. I want to shout my innocence from the mountaintop. I want to fiercely defend my reputation, my good name.
Yet I look at the greater context of scripture to realize my responsibility is to love. To love those who seek to harm me. To love those who lash out at me. To love those I’d rather hate right now.
I seek to look beyond the words and actions and see the reasons behhind their actions. Yes, I know they are fighting their own battles. I know they have been told lies about me. I know they are hurting in their own right.
And I know that their words and actions flow from the anger and bitterness pent up inside their own hearts.
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45
I don’t want to have the ugliness and bitterness corrupt my heart. I don’t want my actions and words to flow from an ugly heart.
I want my life to be characterized by the grace of God, by His unconditional love. I want my life to be a testimony of the goodness of my Father who has poured out His mercy upon me. I want my life to be an example of a life transformed by the God of the universe.
The God who sent His son to earth to die for my sins so I could receive His forgiveness.
The God who is faithful to me even when I am faithless.
The God who came and lived a perfect life for me to imitate.
The God who showed His love for me even while I was lost in my own sin.
As much as I sometimes want to handle situations such as these in my own way, ultimately I know His way is best. Therefore, I will strive to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me…even when I don’t want to.
Lord Jesus, my flesh wants nothing more than to lash out at those who hate me, those who want to destroy me. But I pray your blessings over them. I pray today that you, Lord, will bless my enemies and protect them. May you, Lord, smile on them and be gracious to them. May you, Lord, show them your favor and give them your peace. In Jesus name I pray, amen.