“Hurting people hurt people”, the saying goes. But loving difficult people sometimes hurts more than a kid pushing you down on the playground. It can bruise you in places that don’t heal with rest and a bag of ice. When others attack your character, your sense of identity, or are just down right evil—what then?
If you are a sinner like me, my immediate response is “fists up,” ready to defend and offend. I don’t know how to always navigate my blasting reactions when I’m emotionally bleeding (just ask my family how many times I ask for forgiveness—countless).
So when Jesus taught about loving our enemies—I rather wish his teaching was something other than “love.”
In the Luke chapter 6 podcast episode, we reflect and consider what the Spirit might be calling us toward with the difficult people at the office—or at home.
Podcast Episode: Loving Difficult People
How to Love Difficult People
Difficult people were common to Jesus in his public ministry. Nay-sayers constantly gossiped and maneuvered to trap him in order to destroy him. He knew this.
He certainly corrected the planners-of-evil with wise teachings and miraculous healings—but If I stood on a hill, listening to the Cosmic King teach about our enemies, I’d expect warrior language.
“When people strike you, strike back to destroy!”
But Jesus poetically swirls in an unexpected back flip: love your enemies.
Luke 6:20-26 (NIV)
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
We may not fight on the battlefield of wars, but we do live in the field of relationships—complicated relationships. And sometimes even our loved ones can feel like practical enemies. Slowly read the scripture below from Luke 6.
Who are the practical enemies you are thinking of as you read these verses?
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank you for your word. Help us God, to love those difficult people in our lives. Help us, God, to live for what truly. To follow you faithfully, to be willing to learn about you and willing to change to follow you better. God, we love you. We need you. Help us to live for you today.