JESUS EXHIBITS KINGDOM VALUES TOWARD HIS ENEMIES
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” — Ephesians 4:31
Are we succumbing to the ways of the world? Are we allowing the world’s values to seep into our lives, replacing the values of God’s kingdom? Even though we see worldly people acting in ways that defy the ways of the Lord, we, as believers, are not to follow suit. We must live differently from unbelievers.
What about our “enemies”… those who seem against us… or against all that we believe to be right and good? Are we to give them grace? Perhaps we rationalize that we have the right to act in a contrary way… that our “enemies” in some way deserve this treatment. Yet we are being deceived. This is not the Spirit’s counsel. This is not the way of our Savior.
When we act in ways that oppose God’s ways, we are falling into Satan’s traps. We would never choose to glorify the enemy. Yet when negative emotions like anger, hatred, resentment well up within us, we are allowing the enemy to be victorious. He, not God, is glorified in our lives.
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” — Galatians 5:14
The enemy wants nothing more than for us to abandon the love of God… abandon the commandment of Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves. When we fail to love, we are actually breaking God’s law. We cannot allow the world to dictate how we are to treat others. For we are in this world but not of this world. We do not have to accept worldly values as our own.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Do we exhibit negative emotions toward ourselves? We may perhaps get frustrated or disappointed with ourselves. Yet we are quick to give ourselves grace and move on. We may even laugh at ourselves when we act out of character. However, it is not with mean intent to hurt, to harm or to destroy. It is this grace that we so readily bless our own selves with that we need to extend to others. It matters not who these others may be. They are all God’s children… and loved by Him.
“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy… who are you to judge your neighbor?” — James 4:12
We remember what Jesus endured… the venomous hatred… the devious plotting, scheming, deceit… and even the twisting of laws to take Him down, to have Him killed. The Pharisees, elders and teachers of the law spent most of Jesus’ time of ministry challenging Him… grilling Him on contentious issues… asking Him the most difficult of questions… trying to trip Him up. They wanted nothing more than to be rid of Jesus in any way possible… disregarding all rules… and arrogantly setting aside all that they knew to be right, moral and godly to accomplish their mission. They even rallied the crowds around them to follow their evil ways.
What the Jewish leaders were not aware of was that they were doing exactly what the enemy desired. They were glorifying the enemy with their vicious, bitter, hateful behavior. They were pawns of Satan. The evil one wanted Jesus killed just as much as the leaders. Yet Jesus knew that the plan of salvation must unfold as set out by His Father. He knew that His death would conquer death forever. He trusted and obeyed… leaving all judgment and vengeance up to the Almighty God. In this way, He could exhibit kingdom values amidst the worst of adversaries.
“God sets Himself against the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.” — 1 Peter 5:5
The Jewish leaders were consumed with pride. Just as Satan’s pride led to his downfall, so our pride will bring us down if we succumb to it. Our Lord hates pride for it causes people to play God and judge. We judge others according to our standards rather than God’s. Our ways, however skewed, become higher than God’s ways.
Yet our Lord is the rightful Judge. We are to leave all judging and vengeance up to Him. We judge with a personal agenda. He judges with justice and righteousness. We can trust that He will see justice done. We leave our “enemies” in His hands to do with as He will.
Jesus is our model. All He endured in His time on earth… and still loved… that is our inspiration. As He gave grace, so do we. It is His power working within us that makes this possible. In this way, we glorify God, the One worthy of all praise.
Let us then follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Let us follow His command to love our neighbors as ourselves. We put away any negative feelings against our “enemies” that run counter to His ways. We leave all judging and vengeance up to our God. When we follow the ways of our Savior, we exhibit kingdom values in our lives.