Dec. 28, 1983—Pope John Paul II visits his would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Ağca in prison.

The Challenge in Loving Our Enemies

The sales clerk that gives you unjustified attitude as you make a purchase from their store. The manager who doesn’t respect your presence in the workplace. The neighbor that doesn’t discipline their kids for leaving trash strewn about your property.

How difficult is it to love people like this despite their apparent flaws? INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT.

How did Jesus love His enemies?

Practicing love towards those that clearly don’t love us is one of the things that we cannot do on our own. To exhibit love towards these people is evidence of God’s grace enabling us to be strong in our weakest moments. I’m learning this valuable lesson right now as I walk with the Lord to lead me out of the toxic job that I find myself in currently.

Of course it’s the new year and from what I’ve heard, this is prime time for hiring. But for now, the Lord is keeping me here, but for what purpose? Is it to teach me patience on His timing as He prepares to move me to the next level? Is it to have me endure this pain so that I have no choice but turn to Him for release? Or is it to pray for those that I despise?

“But Lord, the stress of being stuck here is making me so angry and bitter. How can I be expected to love people that subject me to unkindness every day?”

At the end of Job’s situation (Job 42), we learned that God finally restored his fortunes and reversed the situation that he had to endure. Okay, staying faithful to the Lord and He will make it all good—it’s easy remember that part.

But what we often forget, is this additional concept from Job 42:10…

Job 42:10
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.

It’s not until after Job prayed for his friends, that God blessed Job with even more than what he started with.

Job 42:12a
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.

Job’s friends were not the most ideal friends. In fact, they didn’t treat him with the kindness and compassion he truly deserved. They actually made it a lot worse for him as he endured the absolute worst moments of his life.

As Dr. Tony Evans puts it, “For Job, praying ‘for his friends’ involved a lot more than asking God to bless those he loved and considered dear. It involved a significant amount of forgiveness, acceptance, humility and love. It also involved faith.”

Job obeyed the law of love and asked God to give His goodness to others. It wasn’t until Job demonstrated what Christ demonstrates to us every day, that God provided that goodness to Job as well. King Solomon recorded in Proverbs 25:22 (and later echoed by Paul in Romans 12:20), that we are told to exhibit kindness towards our enemies and the Lord will reward us.

But learning to wait with patience also involves learning how to put into practice these concepts, as Dr. Evans explains. But it’s certainly not easy. In fact, it’s downright difficult. We surely cannot do it ourselves nor rely on our abilities alone to convince our heart to love these people.

I find myself really needing the Holy Spirit daily to intervene and fill me up with the strength to love those I don’t care for, let alone pray for them.

In fact, the stress I’ve been enduring with it has now translated into a mild facial spasm above my cheek that just started up last week. (It’s funny how the body responds to stress.) But I’m trying to take this as another sign not to sweat the small stuff and to enjoy what God has provided and what God is setting up to do next.

Each time I feel stressed, I now take a moment to think about this and then I smile 🙂

It’s funny how God works at times. Obviously, it’s not always in the ways we had hoped, but it always, always works out to our benefit. The Father knows us best. And thru His Son, Jesus Christ, we should take great comfort in this notion that He treats us as sons and daughters of His own Kingdom, regardless of the people on Earth who may show or tell us otherwise. Pray for the strength to forgive and love them and you will find true value in the forgiveness and love God shows us each day.

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

Note: The picture you see above was taken in 1983 in a prison cell. It is of Pope John Paul II and the man who tried to assassinate him in 1981. Read more about it here.

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