I don't know if Julio is a Christian or not. He doesn't mention God in his story. Either way, he sets an amazing example for us Christians to follow. Listen to Jesus' words in Luke 6.
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 sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. -- Luke 6:35
Who Are Your Enemies?
When we hear the word enemies, we tend to think of people trying to kill us. Most of us don't feel like we have enemies. But an enemy is just someone who opposes you or your efforts or someone who is hostile to you. Who are your enemies? Who has messed up your plans or been hostile toward you? Who do you get angry at and wish they would get what's coming to them? Is it someone who has talked about you behind your back? Is it someone who always starts drama and arguments with you?
Its very easy to get angry at people like that. Its very easy to want to expose them. Its very easy to want to hurt them back. That's definitely the way I naturally feel. But I've been convicted by Julio's story and reminded of what Jesus desires from us. We are called to love our enemies. We are called to respond to them kindly. We are commanded to give sacrificially to them. We are to seek good for them and do good for them to such an extent that we can honestly say, "I have loved this enemy well."
Compassion is Key
This isn't in the Bible verse above, but there is something I gleaned from Julio's story. Compassion helps. Putting yourself in the other person's shoes helps this whole process of loving our enemies. Instead of calling the cops, Julio stopped to think for a moment about what must be going on in that mugger's life. What sort of things might drive a teen to become a mugger? Is this kid really happy with his life?
Those sort of questions can be vital. When a coworker or classmate gossips about you, stop and think. Why do they feel the need to do that? Are they putting me down because they have a deep need to be popular and the center of attention? Are they talking poorly of me because they were raised in a home where mom and dad spoke negatively of everyone? Are they putting me down because they are jealous or threatened by me? Are they really truly happy with their life if they feel the need to gossip about others?
Don't get me wrong, none of those things excuse sin or make sinful actions justifiable. But they do help us to have compassion instead of anger. The next time an enemy wrongs you, ask those questions. Then ask yourself, when have I acted like that to other people? Those sort of questions will help you to respond with forgiveness, mercy, love, and compassion.
Being Like Our Dad
I love the reason that Jesus tells us to do this. Why are we supposed to love our enemies? Because its the kind of thing our Heavenly Father would do! Isn't that true? Hasn't God been good to you even when you were disobedient to Him? Hasn't God been faithful to you, even when you were unfaithful to Him? Hasn't God shown you mercy and compassion, even when you hardly deserved it? And Jesus Himself is the greatest example of this.
For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! -- Romans 5:10
When we sin, we declare rebellion against God. Yet even when we were His enemies, He sent His Son to die for us so that we could become His friends and even more, His children. We are called to love our enemies, because its what God has done for us. We are called to love our enemies, because as Christians, we should want to be like our Dad. And when we love our enemies well, we create an incredible opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus with a watching world.
I've been challenged by Julio and, more importantly, by Jesus to love my enemies well. So let's do it this week. When we do, I wouldn't be surprised if we see some who were once our enemies become our friends. And I wouldn't be surprised if we see some who were lost become found as we live out the good news that God loves His enemies and wants them to be his friends and His children.
- How have you been an enemy to God and how has God loved you in spite of that?
- Who has wronged you or hurt you recently? How do you normally treat them or respond to them?
- How can you respond in love next time?
- What can you do this week to love them well?