February 22, 2016

Loving the Enemy

I realized the other day that my justice-o-meter is on hyper-sensitive. We had received a letter from those in charge of my husband’s compensation and pension review based on the injuries from his accident 27 years ago. They continue to tell us they still do not see a need to raise the percentage from 0 to even 10% on things like his torn diaphragm, arthritic knee from having a broken pelvic that moved, and a torn aorta that makes him at risk for the dacron tub in it failing. I was more angry than my husband was. I wanted to go hurt someone. I see this man hurting daily from what happen so long ago, compounded by time and wear and tear. He has a right to be mad, but when I am even madder (yes, I realize that is not good grammar, but it fits my mood) there is something worth taking a heart check on before the Lord. How do I love this enemy?

As a sexual abuse survivor and overcomer, I still ping really loudly on injustice. The sense of being wronged still clings to me even though I have faced my abuser and extended truth and grace to him. I even believe the Lord sees and knows and His justice will prevail – He tells me vengeance is His, He will repay.

And yet I want the world to know that things are wrong or that I have been wronged. Why does it matter to me that the world knows? Isn’t it enough that God knows and He is powerful enough to make sure all is made right in the end? These are uncomfortable questions to process because I have taught in the past that the Lord has forgiven me for more than the person who has wounded has ever done. I realize that I am impatient for this injustice to be made right as if that in itself will make me truly happy.

But God is infinitely patient with my sins, my outright deceptions, sinful anger, selfishness, complaining, lack of thankfulness – and on and on the list may go. While Kristin was yet a sinner, Christ died FOR HER (Romans 5:8) This is a demonstration of loving the enemy while they are in active rebellion against you. You are infinitely holy, righteous and good, and your justice-o-meter reads correctly at all times, without fail. And yet, you are patient to foretell, build a family line, and promise a Messiah – from the Fall of Adam and Eve to the birth of Jesus in a manger. This is patient justice as is spoken of in 2 Peter 3:

“3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberatelme has doney forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[b] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”

So who am I to think that God is waiting too long to bring His wrath and justice against sinners who have lived corruptly and in doing so have wounded me? Why do I not, instead, bend my knee in prayer for those who are under God’s wrath due to not belonging to Jesus and/or wounding me or those I love – that they might turn and be saved from it? Am I not as undeserving of forgiveness as they, except for Christ’s blood applied to my sin? Am I so arrogant as to think my forgiveness and being made like Jesus is deserved? His patience to not destroy all mankind and to send forth a Savior despite our active rebellion against Him, is miraculous!

In light of it, I need new eyes to see that loving those who have hurt me and praying for their salvation and blessing, is to be like the God who saved me. It means I believe He is patiently merciful for their salvation as He was for mine. Jesus did this on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing?” (Luke 23:34) He entrusted His unjust suffering to the very One he knew would one day make all things right by Him. (1 Peter 2:22-23) He calls me to do the same.

Love my enemies. Do good to those who persecute me. Why? Because God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil, calling us to be merciful even as He is merciful. (Luke 6:27-38) I am often ungrateful and do evil things – He was merciful to save and make me His own, calling me to live as He does – with mercy even for my enemies.

What does does this look like in the situation I mentioned with my husband? It calls me to trust God’s judgments and His timing as one who has received such patience and has had His just judgments against me laid aside in Christ. I am called to pray for those who have wronged my husband, that they will be saved and do right in God’s time. I need to choose to trust what that looks like in the here and now, knowing there will be an end to His patience, the destruction of those who don’t have Christ as their Savior and have wounded those who do. This will be a terrible end for them that is eternal. I want a softer heart – to want all people to know the Lord and not have to face this eternal judgment.

You see our enemies need the Lord like we need the Lord. Maybe our acts of mercy in the here and now will cause them to come to repentance because they will see Jesus in us, and they will be spared the wrath of God when His patience runs out and He returns to Judge the earth with righteousness. I must hope for them that they will be extended the same grace as I have received as a sinner.

Am I there? No.

Do I want to be there? YES!

How do I get there? By remembering I am forgiven because Jesus took God’s just wrath against my sin so I might be spared it, given a new nature and a new identity in Him. God’s perspective elevates my own to His level, softening my heart and enabling me to love those who are currently my enemies.

  • What questions do you have for me in light of what I have shared?
  • Where are you on this journey of loving the enemies in your life?
  • How can I be praying for you on this journey from needing justice to loving the enemy?

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