You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.”
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
I have had students say things to other children that I couldn’t help but think came from their own homes. Surely these 8–11-year-old children couldn’t have learned so much hate anywhere else. They learned about discrimination and bigotry right in their own homes—perhaps because the parents also grew up with hate and prejudice.
Hate should not be a family value, but it feeds on generations of hate. And it will not stop being handed down as long as each family member continues to let hate breed within them. Someone needs to break the chain so that it stops in this generation.
If you are one who fuels hate, prejudice or discrimination, it has to stop with you! We must realize that it can stop when each of us decides to do something about it and banish it from our thinking. We accomplish nothing by showing hate or even simply looking down on other people as “beneath” us. We are all people of worth, and we need to respect that in everyone.
Proverbs 22:6 reminds us of this important thought: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.”
As parents and grandparents, change can start with us. We have the responsibility to teach our children to love and respect others. Imagine what a change there would in the world if everyone started to respect and love each other.
God didn’t create anything that wasn’t good. Each and every person (and thing) on earth was created by God. He does not make mistakes. He has a purpose for everything and everyone He created. Each of us has the same value to Him. Therefore, we should consider everyone around us as one of His creations and love them as we would love ourselves.
Hate never works any good in the end. We may try to hate, and shun someone, but we are the losers when we do. We wallow in our own mire and muck trying to hate our neighbors, but the only misery it causes is our own.
It really is so much easier to love someone than to work so hard at hating him or her. The stress level is much higher when you hate someone, and you never feel like you’ve won the game. Loving someone reaps many rewards—peace, for instance. Hating someone only destroys the crop—and eats away at you.
Avoid the rush. Be one of the first in your world to reach out and love those with whom who you’ve had conflict. They will be surprised, and may not react right away. But in the end they will respect you. They will have the burden on their shoulders to either accept your peace offering, or they will be the ones who get to wallow in the muck and mire.
Who would you rather it be—them or you?
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.
Think about what your parents taught you. Are they values you want to pass on to your children? Are they values you live by today? Do they teach tolerance and love? If not, do some soul-searching. For the sake of your children, take time to evaluate your thinking. If it isn’t quite what you think you want your children to know, do something about it. Get into the Word and see what God says about loving your neighbor—and yes, even loving your enemy.
Something to ponder
Isn’t it funny that when you smile you have more face value?
* Excerpt from: Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World