In this passage, Paul is encouraging us to love everyone around us, regardless of whether or not we like them. We think that sounds pretty easy-- "Okay, yeah, I'll love everyone. Sure, I can do that." And I start going through people in my brain, my friends, my family, all the people I work with--and then all of a sudden I get to a name that I'm not exactly fond of and my feelings about loving them somewhat disappear. My thought process looks a little like this "Do I have to? Am I really called to love them? They'll be fine if I don't. They hurt me. They were mean to me. I don't like them!" That pretty much goes on for a few minutes even though God's answer never changes. I always want revenge--if someone does something to hurt me, I'm quick to try and do the same to them. I want them to understand how I feel, or how they made me feel. But, in this passage, Paul doesn't just urge us to do the opposite--he calls us to it.
We love to 'get even'. But let's be honest, what does that even mean? When we are hurt, we don't want anyone to ever feel the way we feel - but then all of a sudden when revenge is on the table, we jump at it! Revenge is the easy way out of conflict. It's easy to hide being hurt behind getting even or revenge, but what's hard is loving the person that hurt us. But, as Christians, that is what we are called to. We are called to turn the other cheek and let God have His way with the whole situation. We have to give up control and trust that God is just and will do what He sees fit.
The only way to undo hurt is to love. So, I'm going to challenge y'all to love really those people who have hurt you in the past or given you no reason to love them. Love makes the enemy's job really hard. It is hard for him to get close and do anything if we are full of love and the Holy Spirit.
Ask God to give you His eyes for His children. When you see the people around you as God's children, it makes everyone easier to love and serve.
God, I thank you that you are a just God. That I get to let things fall into your lap and that I can trust you to take care of everything. I ask that you would teach me how to see people as you see them. That you would give me your heart, eyes, and ears for all those around me and that you would teach me how to love and serve them. And I just ask that you would protect me from thoughts that are revenge seeking--that I would be quick to forgive and even quicker to love. Thank you God. Amen.