As a Christian and also a former military officer, one of the most difficult things for me to follow are the words of Jesus stated above. Combat arms military personnel are taught that they must do whatever is necessary to successfully achieve victory and the primary way to do that in warfare is by destroying things and killing the enemy. That is the primary mission of armies down through the ages. Even the mighty warriors of early Jewish times followed the methodology of annihilating your enemy and it was with the support of their God that they did so.
So this begs the question: How can we reconcile that with the words of Jesus, clearly exhorting us to love everyone, enemies included? The answer is clearly found in the word love.
Now when we think of love, we naturally think of those who are close to us, our loved ones, family and friends who we care for and who care for us in times of need. But that's the easy part for God wants us to also love those who hate us, harm us and belittle us. And this is the hardest thing for most of us Christians to deal with.
How can we love those who hate and hurt us? It's just the opposite of the natural tendency of man. But if you put it in the perspective of Jesus Christ and what he did for us it becomes easier to understand, even if it is still very difficult to do. Remember one of the last things Jesus said on the Cross before he died: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:24.
Jesus doesn't expect us to love what people do when they hate and hurt us, but he does expect us to forgive them for what they've done. It's basically the love the sinner, hate the sin thing and, once again, it's what he expects of us. So to do it takes work. Just like remembering to read the Bible daily, praying regularly and attending services, forgiving those who have harmed us takes lots of work and the best place to start is with those who have caused us troubles of the smaller variety. The more we practice doing what he says, the better we will get at it, and when we get to the point where we can forgive those who have caused the most serious harm to us, then we are truly on our way to a life with Him when we are done here.
Think of the case recently where the mother of a child who was killed by a drunk driver went up to the man who was guilty of the crime and told him that she forgave him and would pray for him every day. Oh, she testified against him and told what happened and her testimony was critical as a witness to the horror, yet she found it in her heart to forgive him. He still had to face the punishment for what he had done and I am sure he relived the event every day for the rest of his life, but at least he knew that she had forgiven him and through her grace he was given an understanding of how God's grace can work for all of us. While we never know what it really meant to him, it likely opened his eyes to the concept of godly love, something we all need desperately in a cruel, hard world.
And that's exactly the way it is with Jesus. When he was alone on the Cross suffering as a mere mortal man, he was doing it for all of the sins we have committed against His Father. And the result was His forgiveness for our sins and the opportunity to be born again in Him.
Practice forgiveness, it will ultimately give you peace and joy. You will no longer waste so much of precious life with hate and anger and learn to really live. Try it, it's habit forming.
Lord, Help us to live our life with love, not just for those who are easy to love but those who have hurt us as well. Infect our hearts with your love brought to us by the Holy Spirit and let us experience the joy of living a life filled with love and joy. Let us understand that judgment is up to you, not us and just let our anger disappear to be replaced with peace and joy. In Christ's name we ask, Amen.