Speaking to the Soul – January 18

Love your enemies

If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help. Exodus 23:5

These laws make fascinating reading. Here the people are told that they have a responsibility to other people, whoever they are. If you see the donkey of your enemy struggling, the immediate ungodly response would be to say of the owner: “Serves him right. Just what he deserves.” But God declares that our responsibility is to give practical support to other people whether they are our close friends or enemies

This law reminds us of the words of Jesus, who went even further. We are not merely to be caring towards our neighbours but we have a responsibility to love them. This command, more than any other, shows that Jesus was turning normal human thinking upside down. Jesus seemed to take it for granted that his followers would have enemies, just as he had throughout his ministry. There is no way of avoiding that. But the person who walks in Jesus’ steps has a completely different way of approaching enemies. The love that we have for our enemies might have no impact on them at all, but there is a possibility that our love will bring healing and restoration and so we must keep on loving. However hideous the actions of our enemies, they are loved by God and we need to model our lives on him.

Following God is never easy. The demands of the Old Testament law were tough, and Jesus made them even tougher. It is crystal clear that there is no way in which we can obey any of them in our own strength. We are totally dependent on God’s power to enable us to live his way. Let’s seek his Holy Spirit’s strength today as we live for him, and look for creative ways of bringing his love to the people around us, whoever they are.

In what way are you challenged by Jesus’ command to love your enemies?
Lord God, help me to be loving towards everyone today, whoever they are. Amen