841) Love Your Enemy

From a column by Andree Seu, World magazine, November 1, 2008, page 87, referring to a conversation she was told about.

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     “Is your husband an enemy?” Elisabeth Elliot said to me.  “Does your husband feel like your enemy?”

     “Yes.”

     “What does the Bible say about how to treat your enemies? . . .  Love them.  Do good for them.  Pray for them.”

     “Do good,” I thought.  Could it really be that simple?

     I set my mind to do one good thing for George every day.  In the name of the Lord.  I couldn’t do it for George, but I could do it in obedience to God.  George is my husband and my enemy, and this is the Lord’s command to me.

     I started with a spice cake, George’s favorite dessert.  Simple enough.  But as I did these things, I just became so broken.  Had I really been so, so selfish, and thoughtless all these years, that these little things could mean so much?  Gradually, I saw my true heart as George had seen it all these years– so cold and bitter and awful.  Was I really as bad as this?  Yes.  Yes.

     Finally I was broken.  Over time, compassion for George replaced bitterness.  And dare I say it, even love begins to grow.  Glimpses of delight?  Yes, even that.  God began to show me how He loves George too, and just how foolish I have been.  I feel like Isaiah 61 is coming to pass:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: beauty for ashes; gladness for mourning; a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

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Matthew 5:43-45a  —  (Jesus said), “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

Luke 6:32-33  —  (Jesus said), “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that.”

Luke 6:27-28  —  (Jesus said), “But to you who are listening I say:  Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Romans 12:21  —  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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My Lord Jesus, look at how my neighbor has injured me, slandered my honor with his talk, and interfered with my rights.  I cannot tolerate this, and so I wish he were out of my way.  O God, hear my complaint.  I cannot feel kindly toward him, even though I know I should.  See how cold and insensible I am.  O Lord, I can’t help it, and so I stand forsaken.  If you change me, I will be devout and have better thoughts.  Otherwise, I must remain as I am.  O dear God, change me by your grace.  Amen.

–Martin Luther  (1483-1546)

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