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Crissy and Brian Bontrager: Love your enemies

In our daily devotions we have been reading through the book of Luke. My seven year old son Michael has been intrigued by the lessons Jesus taught and he always looks forward to finding out what the next lesson is. However, when we came to Luke 6, he had a hard time understanding why we should love our enemies.

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.  “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 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. 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. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

We read these verses and discussed what Jesus was telling us to do; Michael could not understand why we should be nice to someone who has been mean to us. Tried as I might’ I could not explain well enough for him to understand. We ended the devotion with a prayer asking God to help us learn to love those who are mean. I felt like I had failed as a mom to teach the lesson of these verses to my son.

I continued to pray that God would reveal the meaning of these words to Michael. This morning on our way to school God did just that. Michael shared with me about a friend (we will call him Joe) in his class who has been lying (ie. My dad owns a race car, my grandma has a million dollars—the typical exaggerated lies children tell).  Michael shared that he gets angry when Joe lies to him, and that some of the other boys will not play with Joe anymore. He also shared that he felt bad that no one wanted to be Joe’s friend. I reminded Michael of the verses in Luke 6 and asked him if he thought God might be telling him to love Joe in spite of his lying.

As I watched Michael think this over I could see the understanding show on his face. Finally, he said with a big smile, “I can love him by being his friend even though I don’t like his lying!” He got it! We continued to talk about how we can pray for Joe and show Jesus’ love to him by being his friend. We said a quick prayer for Joe as we pulled up to the school, and Michael was ready to be Joe’s friend and pray for him all day long.

Even though Michael did not understand the meaning of these verses right away, I had not failed to relay the lesson. God gave Michael a greater understanding through this situation with his friend Joe and made the lesson real. I realized that the simple act of reading these verses with my children plants the lessons in their hearts even if I do not see the fruit right away; God is faithful and His word does not return void. (Isaiah 55:11)

Comments

  1. Great to read this after Brian’s message today about loving one another.

    Thanks, Crissy, for a practical example of how special this lesson can be.

  2. crissy,

    what a great story. how cool!! i love how God led you to keep following up until he understood. what a great lesson for all of us to put into practice! thanks for sharing!!