I’m always learning, and I’m always being reminded, what it means to be like Christ. Being Christ-like is what we are called to pursue, but it is an effort that is difficult to do, and impossible to maintain, without the help of the Holy Spirit. One area that I find particularly difficult is when he calls us to be extremely merciful toward our enemies. He calls us to be extreme in our mercy because he has poured out extreme mercy on us. Remember, the Bible tells us that, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. So, even when we were his enemies he showed extreme mercy, and he calls us to do the same. In Luke chapter 6, verses 27 through 28, Jesus says:
“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.”
And in verses 35 through 36 he says:
“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 the wicked.”
God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked, so we should be too. I don’t think he is calling us to be a doormat, but he is calling us to be extreme in our mercy, extreme in our forgiveness, and extreme in our love toward those who are extreme in their hate towards us. When I think of extreme mercy, I’m always reminded of the persecuted church; believers who are imprisoned, tortured, or killed because of their faith in Christ. Often times, I read stories of how they pray for their persecutors, and how they genuinely show love toward those who are expressing hatred. They are not doing this in their own strength. The Holy Spirit helps them. And likewise, we need the help of the Holy Spirit if we choose to love our enemies as well.
Jesus tells us to “love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us.” That is extreme mercy. But Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything he didn’t do himself. He showed us that kind of mercy, and that, I believe, is why he asks us to do likewise. Not every day do we have the opportunity to love our enemies; at least that is the case for me. But when you have the opportunity, I challenge you to show them extreme mercy. If you do, you will be taking on the likeness of Christ. And not only that, Jesus assures us that if we show extreme mercy then our reward will be great.