Everyone's heard The Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." You may have heard it in elementary school in a teacher's attempt to get classmates to share the swings at recess. Or maybe your parents first gave you this advice. Taken directly from the Bible (Matt. 7:12), it's a simple command with complex meaning.
Most of us can quote it from memory, but few actually live out the words. It's certainly easier said than done.
This past Sunday, I sat in a pew, listening to our pastor. On the surface, nothing was out of the ordinary. But inside, I felt more convicted than I had in months.
Our pastor preached on loving our enemies.
I wouldn't say I have enemies, exactly, but I definitely have a couple people I've harbored anger towards. According to my pastor, though, those people would be defined as my enemies. And I am called to love them.
I've made excuses for myself in the past, thinking, Well, who hasn't felt resentment towards someone at some point? It's easy to try to justify our negative emotions. But for me as a Christian, it's my responsibility to not only forgive the people who have wronged me, but love them.
The intriguing thing about this is that it's completely inhuman. It is out of our nature to not only give up our resentment towards people who have hurt us, but to love them as well. My pastor pointed out that it's all well and good to love our friends. We should love our friends. But Jesus says (Matt. 5:43-48) that even sinners love their companions. It's easy to love someone who loves you. Our real strength is revealed when we can set aside our bitterness and hurt and love those who have caused us pain.
You may be thinking there's no way you could ever forgive a particular person. I'm supposed to love her? After what she did? We may feel just the opposite. Sometimes we may even want to settle the score, to make things even. The desire for revenge is a very human thing. We don't naturally have spirits of forgiveness. We were all born with sinful natures.
But in these moments of resentment, we forget that Jesus has already forgiven every sin ever committed.
When He died on the cross years ago, He not only forgave us for all the times we have sinned against Him, but He gave up His life for us. All out of love. The greatest act of love the world has ever witnessed. So since Jesus forgave me, can't I forgive others?
I won't act as if it's just as easy as that. Forgiveness is a process -- it takes time, and it's something we have to constantly work at and strive towards. But we are called to be models of Christ, to be Christ-like, and the only way to do so is to follow Him and His commands.
So I must forgive and love my enemies. I can't say I'm completely there yet, but I'm working on it.
Won't you join me?