Matthew 5:38
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the
children of God (v.9).

I am forced to preach under something of a handicap
this morning,” said Dr. Martin Luther King on a
November day in 1957. His physician had instructed
him to stay in bed, but King insisted on speaking.
Paraphrasing the words of Jesus, he declared to
the congregation at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in
Montgomery, Alabama: “You have heard that it has
been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine
enemy.’ But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless
them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye
may be the children of your Father which is in heaven”
(see Matthew 5:43-45).

As an African-American living in the southern United
States, which was stained with the sin of racism, Dr. King
preached under an even more virulent handicap that gave
his words all the more validity. “How do you go about
loving your enemies?” he asked. “Begin with yourself.
There might be something within you that arouses the
tragic hate response in the other individual . . . When the
opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy,
that is the time which you must not do it.”

As we consider our enemies and the animosity we
harbor toward them, we’re wise to remember that we
were once enemies of God! (See Romans 5:10.) But now,
as we have believed in Him, “our Lord Jesus Christ has
made us friends of God” (v.11). We now have the “task of reconciling people
to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:18). That’s why God tells us not to avenge ourselves,
but rather leave it to God who says, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back”
(Romans 12:19).

The way to defeat our enemies is to show them the astonishing, Spirit-filled
love of God.

—Tim Gustafson

Read 1 Samuel 1:1 for the fascinating account of how David handled King
Saul’s attempt to hunt down and kill him.

Should your next step in a difficult relationship be an honest apology?
What should you do if people react with even more hatred when you
try to love them?