For those of you who are parents, and even grandparents, you can easily remember back to when each baby was born into your family and all the possibilities in life represented by that newborn baby. Doesn’t it feel like it was just yesterday? (For me, it really was yesterday — my daughter gave birth to our grandson yesterday, March 29).
As each baby who is born grows through childhood toward adulthood, they exhibit some traits of their mother and some traits of their father. Whenever a child exhibits a trait of one of their parents, they’re said to “take after” that parent in that way. For example, I take after my father in being a minister of Jesus Christ (and he took after his father in the same way).
It’s a good feeling to see your child take after you. You, of course, love your child regardless, but how great is it to see a part of yourself in that child, influencing their behavior and choices in life. You look at that child and say, “Yes, that’s my boy (or girl).”
The past five blog articles have described five different statements that Jesus made in the Sermon on the Mount in which He compared the way people had been taught for years with a higher standard that He wanted His followers to live up to. The sixth and final one may be the most challenging of all:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
Love your enemies? Do good to them that hate you? Who could possibly do that? And why would you want to?
Jesus encourages us to try to love our enemies because it’s what our heavenly Father does and He wants us to take after Him:
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45)
OK, so God wants us to take after Him. But, how do you love someone who hates you and wants to hurt you? Is it even possible? It’s one thing for God to do it — but He’s God.
Well, just as we transmit traits to our children that enable them to do similar things to what we do, God has transmitted traits to His children (us) via the Holy Ghost. So, although it may not be an easy thing to love our enemies, it’s not impossible — the ability is within us as the children of God.
Now, as followers of Christ, we obviously shouldn’t be hating anyone. But we can’t really control how other people feel about us. Hopefully, there isn’t anyone who actually hates you to the extent that you would describe them as an enemy. But, if there is, you probably don’t have much of a relationship with that person. They probably aren’t even speaking to you. But, even in that extreme case, there are still things you can do to show love for that person:
- Pray for them — pray that whatever condition is causing them to be your enemy will be resolved.
- Don’t refuse an opportunity to help them (in an appropriate manner, depending on the situation).
- Be open to reconciling when they are ready to do so.
If you can do the above, then you will have gone a long way toward the goal of loving your enemy. And, if you think about it, the above is very similar to how God treats people who are estranged from Him, so you are taking after your heavenly Father by doing this.
In our respective families, my children are different from your children because mine take after me and yours take after you. As children of God (and followers of Christ), we should be different from people who are not trying to be children of God. As Jesus points out — If we just love the people who love us, how are we different? Everyone does that, whether they’re children of God or not.
As God watches us in action, we want Him to look and say, “Yes, that’s my boy (or girl).” So, let’s do our best to take after our heavenly Father in all ways, including loving our enemies. We will never be as perfect as our Father, but that’s the goal to keep in sight.
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.