The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise . . . for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. (2 Kefa/Peter 3:9)
LOVING OUR ENEMIES
Human beings, years of research have taught us, are not naturally loving nor forgiving of those who hurt or otherwise threaten us. By our human nature, we are competitive and territorial; this is built into our DNA – we kill our enemies, justified through ‘holy war’, and we seek individual revenge, citing righteous indignation. Thus, over the millennia, we have tended to look at the world through lenses of right and wrong, black and white. For many people, there are no greys. But this is not how our Beloved Messiah views us.
We begin our unpacking of His teaching in Psalm 1:1,2, where we are taught – ‘’How blessed are those who reject the advice of the wicked, don’t stand on the way of sinners or sit where scoffers sit! Their delight is in Adonai’s Torah; on his Torah they meditate day and night.’’ As we know, Adonai’s Torah is composed of His instructions for our daily lives. As such, we read in Leviticus 19:18 – ‘’Don’t take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself.’’ This is emphasised in Proverbs 25:21, as we read: ‘’If someone who hates you is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.’’
We also find a number of Adonai Yeshua’s teachings, in the Apostolic Scriptures, also known as the New Testament, focused on showing love to our enemies. For example, in Luke 6:27,28, we find – ‘’Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.’’ And, then, in Matthew 5:43-45 – ‘’You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Love your neighbour — and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Then you will become children of your Father in heaven.’’ If we are taught to love our enemies, through Yahweh’s life instructions and from the mouth of Adonai Yeshua, why do believers have such a difficult time loving those who come against us or threaten us? This is a difficult question to answer; however, it is not impossible. Much of the anger we express toward others lies in two camps: stereotyping and instilled, personal anger.’’
We human beings come to stereotyping quite easily. It is human nature to ‘lump’ those different from ourselves into categories of ‘otherness’, as a way of thinking of ourselves as better than ‘them’. Then we have instilled, personal anger.
When, as children, we were not taught love and forgiveness, our default position was hate and retribution. Unfortunately, many of us have been raised by parents who themselves were never taught to love or forgive others. Thus, we ‘inherited’ their anger and accumulated more, which we invariably sublimated, suppressed, until it exists only in our subconscious and it is our subconscious which guides and directs our behaviour.
Beloved, the irony of hate and unforgiveness is it impacts more on us, than it does on others. Research into human behaviour has shown us that hating others and being unforgiving of other’s actions towards us or those we love may reduce our life-spans and facilitate the development of life-threatening diseases. May we imply these are the consequences of not following Yahweh’s commandment to Love your neighbour as yourself? In addition, are we aware of the messages we are sending to others, through our anger, hate and unforgiveness?
By harbouring resentment, anger and unforgiveness, we are engaging in ‘otherness’, ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality. ‘Otherness’ leads to the development of various phobias, for example: xenophobia, the hatred of immigrants; colourphobia, the hatred of different skin colours; anti-Semitism, hatred of Jewish people; homophobia, hatred of various sexual orientations, and so on. All these phobias are violations of Adonai Yeshua’s command to ‘’be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect,’’ as we read in Matthew 5:48.
Beloved, we are not commanded to ‘like’ everyone we meet, but we are commanded to show them respect and brotherly/sisterly love, because, as believers, we are separate from the world. We are held to a higher standard of ethical behaviour, than are those of the world. When we violate His standards of ethics, found in Torah, His Life Instructions, we will be held accountable and will face the consequences.
CONSIDER: If a believer does not love or forgive his enemies, does this impact on his salvation? Absolutely not! However, it will impact on our relationship with the Ruler of the Universe and the Lover of our Souls, as we are being disobedient and rebellious. Is this what we want? Are we prepared to desire our hate and unforgiveness over our relationship with Yahweh, our Beloved God?
May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly
ACTION: I urge us all to explore the reasons why there is hate within our hearts towards others who are different (ethnicity, religion, life-orientation) and why we are so reluctant to forgive those who would harm us. Ask Ruach HaKadosh, the Holy Spirit of the Living God, to lead each of us through this process of discovery.
PRAY: Abba B’Shamayim, Father in Heaven, I know that I often harbour hate and unforgiveness in my heart. Please help me, through your Holy Spirit, to lead me closer to love and forgiveness, even though I find these to be difficult. I wish to draw closer to the image of Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, within me. In the Beloved Name of our Messiah, I pray.