The Enemy of My Enemy is.....
During my recent foray into rereading The New Testament, it has been made abundantly clear that the value in loving one-another is incredibly high. When asked which commandments were the most important, Jesus answered;
“And He said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."”
MATTHEW 22:37-40 NASB
But, how is it, exactly, that we are meant to love our neighbors? What are we supposed to do if our neighbor’s dog likes to make a mess in our lawn? Well, fortunately, both of those are incredibly easy to wrap our minds around...slightly more difficult to actually ACT on, at times. Luke 6:35 says, “[...] lend, expecting nothing in return[...],” and our love/compassion is no different...we must love whether the individual in question might ever return the kindness, or not.
More often than not, when we love with the Lord in our hearts, our actions of love, compassion, and kindness will penetrate the souls of our neighbors like some WD-40 on a rusty bolt...that elixir of wonder will seep into their dry innards and loosen up their own loving intentions; the ones all of us hold.
This recipe is especially potent when used on those we would call our “enemy.”
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” “[...]love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
LUKE 6:27-29; 35-36 NASB
The stark contrast between how we treat our enemies and how our enemies treat us, coupled with the surprise and shock-value it holds to those on the other end serve to highlight God’s love for each of us...AS WELL AS the folly of the enemy’s ways.
“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you.”
PROVERBS 25:21-22 NASB
It’s not our job to make sure the enemy becomes aware of, or fixes, how crappy they are; but we can help to give them the opportunity to figure it out. Our job is, however, to do the best we can to illustrate God’s love for each of us with how we interact with those around us. That means; slowing down, NOT shouting at the checkout clerk for putting our eggs under our cantaloupe, giving the inconsiderate individual who devoured our lunch a hug - instead of a punch in the gut (a figurative hug should suffice, here), and letting go of all the wrongs (and perceived wrongs) that have rolled our way.
God loves each of us, without fail, no matter what awful, stupid things we have done. We probably won’t be able to show everyone the love we should with all the awful, stupid things they do...but we can make an honest effort to move in the right direction.