For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
Every once in a while an off-beat news article catches my attention. That was certainly the case when I came across an Associated Press story that told of a new bridegroom who was in prison.
At first the man had my sympathy. A jail is not the place a new husband wants to spend his honeymoon. Then I read the article. My sympathy stopped when I found out James Olwine, who had been married in Las Vegas on March fourth, used his car to run over his wife.
The article told how the Salt Lake Couple, who were still on their honeymoon, had argued. That wasn’t a shock. Arguing is not unusual for a couple who are still discovering each other. The article then related how the very upset bride had stepped out of their car. That’s not unusual either. Many people who are arguing find it wise to take a few minutes to cool off. What was unusual was the fact that the groom drove off the road and hit his wife with their car. Although the article never listed the reason for the argument, the groom’s reaction seemed to be more than a little excessive.
Repeatedly the Bible tells us to love our enemies. Scripture wants us to know that while most people are content to love those who love them, Christians are to love those who dislike and hate them. That can be a difficult thing to do. On the other hand, loving your enemies might seem easy when it’s compared with the task of loving those who ought to be closest to you.
Looking at the life of our all-loving Lord, a person might wonder how Jesus managed to keep His patience and keep loving His disciples. For three years those twelve men had walked with Him, heard Him preach, watched Him perform miracles, and listened to His parables. Even so, they seldom understood their Rabbi. When they were threatened by a storm on the Sea of Galilee, the frightened disciples challenged Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38b) What a thing to say to the Son of God whose entire life was being spent to save humankind from eternal death and damnation.
Who could blame Jesus if He had fired those twelve disciples and started over with a fresh bunch of followers? Who would be upset if Jesus had stopped loving those men who tried to keep little children from His blessing, who fell asleep when He asked them to pray, who refused to believe the women who told them of His resurrection victory?
Sometimes it’s hardest to love those who are closest to us. But that is what Jesus did, and it is what He asks His forgiven followers to do as well. Love your enemies, yes! But, following the example of the Savior, also love those whom the Lord has placed into our circle of friends and family.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I repent of the many times when I should have been Your witness, but wasn’t. I regret the many times when the Holy Spirit wished to draw me closer, but I wouldn’t. Most of all, I thank You for the fact that You continued to love me in spite of me being me. May I do the same for all those around me. In your name. Amen.