“You have heard it said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:43-45a
At Single, Saved & Secure, we are singles who have been saved by grace through faith and rest secure in our new identity in Jesus Christ. Part of this new identity as a child of God is to know how to love others well. Love is the foundation of Christianity. It is because of God’s love that we have access to the Father and have been reconciled with Him through the blood, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As children of the living God, we do not get to pick who we love. We are simply commanded to love all those around us. It is a very simple command yet not always easy to practice and implement. Many at times, our true identity in Jesus Christ is not revealed by loving those who are easy to love and who love us but by loving our enemies: those who persecute us, those who have harmed us, hurt us, abused us and do not love us in return. Loving those who fit in the former category is our greatest test of love and reveals how rooted we are in our identity in Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that we must put on Christ:
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ”
– Galatians 3:27
We put on Christ when we love those who are difficult to love. How would we truly reveal Jesus Christ if we only displayed love to those who love us?
We put on Christ when we forgive those who have hurt us to our core whether intentionally or accidentally and whether or not they persist in hurting us.
We put on Christ when we care more about restoring broken relationships than we do about assigning blame and holding a grudge.
As believers, our identity rooted in Jesus Christ is also rooted in the principles of love and forgiveness. Just as Jesus deemed it more important to reconcile us to God, to heal that broken relationship between the Father and us and forgive us of our sins, we too must care about restoring the broken relationships in our lives.
For many of us, we’ve been deeply hurt by people we loved, people we trusted and perhaps even opened our hearts too. It can sting like a bee when those very people whom we were vulnerable with wound us. What’s worst, those we loved so deeply can become our enemies. The very people whom we loved can become the people who persecute us and harm us the most. Yet, God calls us to continue to love them. Now don’t get me wrong. This is not an invitation for them to continue to abuse us but in spite of what they may have done, God is asking us to overcome evil with good or in this case with love and forgiveness. This is when we must “turn the other cheek”. And to do so, we must forgive.
~Love cannot be made complete without forgiveness. ~
Our new identity requires us to forgive as often as we are hurt just as God forgave and continues to forgive us every time we hurt him through sin. Forgiving one another and having relationships restored is at the core of our Christian identity so much so that Jesus himself said:
” So if you are offering your gift on the altar and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24 CSB
Reconciliation is God’s desire for us. Just as He reconciled us with Himself through Jesus, He wants us to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters.
For many of us at Single, Saved & Secure, we need to reconcile with someone who has hurt us. This person can be a family member, a friend or even a former lover or someone we dated. As we become who God has created us to be, we must be willing to forgive those who have left a stain on our heart or shattered it to pieces. Healing matters but reconciliation matters even more.
“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” -Romans 12:18
Off course, reconciliation requires that the other party accept the olive branch that is being extended. The choice is theirs. However, as children of God, we are to make every effort to be reconciled with others and forgive honestly, be at peace with others as we are reminded in Romans 12:18. This is not easy!
From personal experience, I can tell you that it is not always easy to forgive and love our enemies or those who have harmed us. It is much easier to love those who continually love and support us. Yet, this is what God asks of us as he gives us a new identity and helps us to put on Christ.
The most painful kind of love is a love that is not reciprocated but it may also be the truest and selfless kind of love. You know that you may never have someone else’s love in return, yet you continue to love them and would be willing to make sacrifices for them. This is the kind of love that God has for us. While we were in our sin, estranged from Him, unwilling to love Him and serve Him, He continued to love us. And out of that love, flowed forgiveness and grace we did not deserve. For this reason, we too must love, forgive and be reconciled to others even our enemies.
I am truly grateful for the love you have shown me even while I was far away from you. I am grateful and thankful for the forgiveness and grace you extend freely to me on a daily basis. Lord, help me to show the same kind of love, forgiveness, and grace to others especially to those who have wronged me and to my enemies. Help me to live out the truth of Matthew 5:44 and Matthew 5:23-24.
Lord, show me the broken relationships in my life where I need to be reconciled with others and give me the courage and humility to go and be reconciled with that brother or sister you bring to mind. Teach me Lord how to choose love and therefore choose you since you are love.
If there is any resentment, hurt or grudge that I am still holding on to, please reveal it to me and help me to let it go. Flood my heart with love for those who are difficult for me to love and help me to forgive others their trespasses as you have forgiven me.
In Jesus’ Name,