As believers, we must continually strive to emulate the character of Jesus. When we do, not only can we take pleasure in knowing that we are walking in step with the Lord, but the Bible reminds us that a side benefit, is that we will often receive rewards in heaven. But it isn’t easy to be perfect like God is perfect. One difficult mandate given to us is the directive to love our enemies. Jesus says in Luke chapter 6 verse 35:
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
So, to be like God is to be kind to the ungrateful and wicked. It isn’t in our nature to behave like this. Actually, as a species, we are quite selfish. But if we want to be like God, we need to let the Holy Spirit retrain our mind, body and spirit to fall in line with what he wants, not what we want. If we love our enemies, the Bible tells us that our reward will be great and we will be sons of the Most High. Consider the phrase, “the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree”; referring to when a child behaves much like their parent. Let this be said of us when it comes to how others view us in light of our relationship with our God and Savior.
In the New Testament, Jesus calls us to behave in a way that is contrary to our human nature. He tells us not to look upon the opposite sex with lust in our heart, not to be angry with our brother, to offer our other cheek when someone strikes us, and yes, he also tells us to love our enemies. If this is an area where you struggle, I encourage you to take it to the Lord in prayer. We aren’t built to make these kinds of changes on our own. That is why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit. We need to draw on his strength to succeed in areas where our flesh fails. But to do that, we have to surrender ourselves to him and let him do what needs to be done in our heart without fighting or rebelling. It isn’t easy, but Jesus wouldn’t ask us to do it if it couldn’t be done.