Making enemies is kind of my specialty. I’m not proud of this ability, knowing how contrary this is for a follower of Christ, but my requirements for “enemy-making” are minimal. The neighbor who doesn’t clean up their pet’s mess in my front yard. The young adult who treats the weight section of the gym as their private workout studio. The inattentive parent at the park who allows their child to orchestrate chaos without reprimand and redirection. The grocery store customer who casually abandons their cart in the parking lot instead of returning it to its designated area. My list could go on, but you get the idea. It doesn’t take much for me to take offense.
Why do I have this incongruence between my internal process of enemy making and my professed conviction that everyone is a child of God? If only my words and my heart lived in harmony, then petty grievances wouldn’t hook me in ways that are contrary to Jesus’ words, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (v. 36). Jesus’ call rubs against the grain of my tendencies. His declaration turns me completely around, requiring a full conversion of my mind and heart. This pronouncement is a radical one that excavates the roots of my life where, if I dig deeply enough, I discover God’s unconditional love for me.
If God is so unbelievably patient and graciously kind to me, what is preventing me from extending this same patience and kindness to my enemies? It’s humbling to consider how my self-righteousness and justification keep me from offering this divine love to others, since God gives this mercy to me so that I will give it away.
In what ways are your heart and mind misaligned? Why is being merciful a key to re-alignment?
Loving God, your compassion knows no limits. Instill a merciful spirit within me, particularly towards those that I consider enemies. Amen.