Mt 5:43-48 Love Who?
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have hard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.”
Many years ago, while I was working at Kodak, I got into a little fight with a co-worker. It all started when I first started. Although we were co-workers and roughly the same age, he took it upon himself to be my “mentor”; that is, to correct me when I made some mistakes. I was in charge of product quality. He was an Industrial Engineer in charge of procedures and processes. My mistakes were not serious, but they were at times embarrassing. They had nothing to do with product quality but mostly with following proper protocols. Although our cubicles were side by side, this co-worker decided to send me e-mails to ‘help’ me. As a young employee, I wondered why he wouldn’t just come over and talk to me. I later found out it was because he was blind copying our boss. Eventually, it dawned on me the reasons why I was making these types of mistakes: we had no manuals, no protocols, and no procedures in place. So, I wrote a friendly e-mail to my friend inviting him to do just that, “so that any future employee could learn the ropes sooner and better.”
I sent the e-mail. Within an hour, I received a response. But due to the pace at work picking up and a sudden surge in orders, I never got the chance to sit down in front of my computer and read his reply. It would take me almost two weeks to do so. All the while, we were working together, doing our jobs as a team, and having lunch together like normal.
One day at lunch he asked me, “How do you do it?” Do what? I replied. “How can you just talk to me, work with me, sit down and eat lunch with me as if I didn’t lose my cool with you? Aren’t you a little upset with my last e-mail to you?” I wanted to tell him that I hadn’t read it. Instead, I took credit where it didn’t belong and told him some lie like, “I’ve learned to turn the other cheek.” That didn’t impress him as much as the way I treated him. From that moment on, he considered me his ‘mentor’.
Love your enemies. Three words put together that, if lived, have power; the power to change lives...including my own.
But is it possible? Is it advisable? Is it for me?
“Be merciful Lord, for we have sinned” (Ps. 51:3a). I just found my answer. Yes. It is possible. It is highly advisable. And it is definitely for me. Every time I sin, I switch sides. When I sin, I fight for the enemy. When I sin, I am technically at war with the Lord. I become the enemy’s agent, not the Lord’s. When I break my promises, I break His heart. His voice, his hand should rise in anger but it doesn’t. I know it doesn’t because I would be destroyed. Instead, the Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father. Isn’t this what Christ did? Isn’t this what Christ was? The Lord is now inviting us to do what He does best: Love those who persecute you; pray for those who hate you. If you do this, then you will be a child of the Father, just like our Lord is the Son of the Father. How you love may not change those around you, but it will definitely change who you are.Turn away your face from my sins (Ps 51). I learned a great lesson that day at Kodak. I learned that living by faith is more powerful than knowing the facts; that my opinions are not as meaningful as my gestures. I learned that in order to hate, you must have a reason. To be kind, you can be blind to reason.