Let’s talk about love for a minute. It's one of those words that either people throw around carelessly or don't seem to use enough, but regardless of the way the word is used, it's still powerful. Love triumphs over hate, over fear, over reason, over pain, over practically anything. It’s easy to lend to those you know will pay you back, and it’s even easier to love those who will love you in return. Paying back one wrong for another isn’t difficult either, and despising those who despise you can come without breaking a sweat. However, none of that really does anyone any good, does it?

Of course, loving those who love you and lending to those who can pay you back is a good thing, and it keeps a bit of good in the world; however, no change really comes unless sacrifices are made. Does loving and giving when it’s easy really do anything more than just give you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside your chest? Loving those who love you doesn’t change anything. Giving to those who only return what is borrowed just maintains the status quo. Everything stays the same when everyone is only willing to do the things that come easy to them and when “self-sacrifice” is a word people avoid altogether.

Change only comes when we are willing to go above and beyond what is easy—when we choose to love those who hate us and to give freely to those who can never repay us. If doing so causes us to sacrifice our time, money, and the like, then that is even better. Sacrifice makes a bigger statement and just further proves the love we have. What would happen if we showed compassion and genuinely cared for the people who loved to hurt us? Well, I suppose the world might just become a better place.

Loving Your Enemies

Even better, by choosing to love our persecutors, enemies, bullies, and the like; we are showing the exact same love that Christ has for all of us.

“He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, He was led away. No one cared that He died without descendants, that His life was cut short in midstream. But He was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave.”
Isaiah 53:3-9 NLT

It’s no secret that those verses are talking about what Jesus did for us. Jesus left everything behind for us. (And He had everything—He had been with God since the beginning, meaning He gave up His throne in Heaven to be with us.) He knew the sacrifice He would make, and He knew the persecution He would face; yet He still came just because He loves us.

The people who despised and rejected Him were not just those first-century Jews. We—you and I—are also counted among those people. We were also the ones who didn’t care about Him, who hated Him, and who rejected Him. Even now, many of us who consider ourselves Christians are guilty of falling short and of putting our own selfish desires above the One who created us and the One who died and was tortured for us. But even with our shortcomings and selfish desires, God forgives us and shows us mercy, grace, and favor.

Christ’s sacrifice—His love—truly did change the world. Because of what He did, we have been given more than just salvation and an example to follow. We can allow the love He has for everyone to flow through us. We can love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us because Jesus first did that for us. We’ve been given a love and a hope that surpasses all understanding. The least we could do is show that unconditional, irrevocable love to others.

“We love each other because He loved us first.”
I John 4:19 NLT

Published by Amber Oglesby