Posted in Daily Bible Readings

How Our Enemies Can Make Us Holy — If We Let Them

Sunday readings for February 24, 2019

It’s easy to notice when people mistreat me. In this week’s reading, Jesus instructs the disciples how to react when we are mistreated. I thought about times I’ve felt mistreated and came up with these instances.

– The person in the parking lot who rushes past me as I’m trying to back out

– The person who steps out in front of me in the mall and then walks slowly and I can’t pass

– The person that knocks into my chair at a restaurant

– The person at work who gives me a hard time

– The person who interrupts me when I’m talking at a meeting

When mistreated, my reaction might be to get annoyed, desire to seek revenge, or withdraw. But Jesus instructs us on how to deal with these situations.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.”

(From Luke 6)

Another way to look at Jesus’ teaching is to reflect on my own behavior Do I get in anyone’s way? Do I bother others in a way that wouldn’t even register on my radar?

I can have instants of being hateful when I feel like someone is not respecting my time or distracting me from something I’m trying to focus on. I don’t mean to be this way, but I don’t recognize it in the moment.

Jesus boiled down the Ten Commandments to two commandments.

Love the Lord with all your heart and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Loving the Lord means following the commandments which are there to protect and enrich our lives — not limit us. How we love our neighbor is laid out in Jesus’ words. Often when someone is hurting, they hurt others. If we react with hatred the negativity will snowball. That is the difference to live as Jesus teaches us versus how we might want to react.

Jesus instructs us on exactly what to do, how to treat our enemies: Bless them, pray for them, give them what they are seeking, offer ourselves, and give what we have. I believe this translates into connecting with them instead of withdrawing — which is our human nature to do, or at least it’s my nature to want to avoid troublesome people.

What Jesus is telling us to do allows us to connect with others and reveal the kingdom of God to them, which was what he came to do when he took human form. It’s not easy though. As I sit here reflecting on what I wrote, I am struggling to imagine following my own words, struggling to even want to react differently than I do when someone hurts me or takes something for me. Hopefully there is someone out there praying for me when I hurt them, helping me to be better.