Greetings In the Name of the Lord:
Romans 12:14, 17-18 (NLT)
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
As I stated a few weeks ago, love is the ultimate Christian virtue, and the distinguishing characteristic of all disciples of Jesus. Most of us find this pleasant and even easy when those we are loving make that way. However, what about those who make it difficult? Are we responsible to love those who make our lives miserable? The answer to that questions is “absolutely!” In fact, Jesus said, “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that” (Matt. 5:46-47). Let’s be honest, some folks make it difficult, if not down right impossible, to love them. But Jesus tells us that those are the people that we need to reach out and touch even more. Paul and Jesus are not the only New Testament writers that stress this topic. The Apostle Peter also touches on it when he said, “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps” (1 Pt. 2:21). Peter reminds us, as does Paul, that Jesus was our example of loving those who mistreat us and make us miserable. Let’s not forget that He even loved those who were executing Him as He hung from the cross. Furthermore, by loving those who make our lives difficult we are showing the truth of the Good News, and people can see that truth lived out in our lives. Roger Mohrlang in his commentary on Romans wrote, “Self-sacrificing love-Christ-like love-is a powerful witness in any culture because it is a universal virtue. And self-sacrificing love, more than any other quality, is what characterizes Paul’s definition of the Christian life…” (195). We have to live out this life even when people make it difficult.