February 14 is Valentine’s Day, a day for friends and lovers to show their affection with paper hearts, cards, chocolate, and flowers. I hope everybody will receive at least some expression of the fact that someone else loves you! I hope all of us will remember to send those Valentines. But there is one group of people whom most of us will forget on this Valentine’s Day. The Valentines we will forget are those expressing love for our enemies.
In Luke chapter 6, Jesus calls upon us to “Love your enemies,” and this is just the beginning. He goes on to say “Do good to those who hate you.” The response Jesus calls for isn’t just some emotional or sentimental attachment to your enemies. Jesus calls for a love that is actively pursuing good for them! Jesus doesn’t tell us to “think good thoughts or have good feelings,” but actually to do good things to those who hate you. And Jesus doesn’t stop there.
Jesus goes on to say, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” These are perhaps even more difficult tasks. For blessing and praying are not simply outward actions, they involve inward motivation and commit-ment. What could Jesus have been thinking of when he gave us these words? What Jesus is asking goes directly against our human nature! And that is exactly why we are commanded to do so. Jesus calls upon us to govern our behavior according to God’s principles not the retaliatory, revengeful, retribution seeking instincts of human beings. I am re-minded of the saying, “I don’t get mad, I get even!” This may sound good, but it does not express Christian ideals.
Some may pattern attempts to “love our enemies” on this model: we will “love” them, we won’t get mad at them regardless of what they do, but we will look for a way to get “even.” We want to be nice to them only because we claim the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:19-20.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”
YES!!! This is the “kill them with kindness” tactic. I’m going to love you if it kills me, because I know how un-comfortable it must make you feel. Squirm, you worm, squirm!
Perhaps we cling to the words in Luke 6:31, the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” It seems to imply some eventual reciprocity, be nice to your enemy long enough, and your enemy will become a friend. But Jesus short-circuits us with the words of verse 35, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrate-ful and the wicked.”