Luke 23:34 – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (NIV). Some people have never been shown love, they only know despair and hate. How can we expect them to love when they have not experienced it? Forgive them. Some have experienced love but chose acts of brutality. How can they fully comprehend the enormity of their actions? Forgive them.
But how do we live out that call to forgive and to love our enemies?
We were never given the responsibility of judgement. That is God’s domain only. I believe one of the reasons for this is because we filter the world through our broken humanity and pain. We judge things as good or bad through that. Our emotions and thoughts can deceive us. Therefore how can we judge fairly? It is easier to live out the call to forgive and to love when we are not being the voice of judgement on someone or something they have done. This is no coincidence.
One of the greatest weapons Christians have is love. But if we cannot forgive our enemies then how can we love them? We need to rise up in love, declare the word of war as love. Love is key in living out the call to forgive and to love our enemies. Love and forgiveness are inseparable. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Loving our enemies and forgiving them for the pain they inflict does not justify or excuse what they have done. Instead it punches the devil in the face and he has no comeback for it. No one can argue with a father who stands before the stranger who murdered his daughter and says I forgive you and I love you. People see mercy and compassion in the father even if they cannot fathom why he would want to forgive and love such a person.
In a broken world we can still live out the call to love and forgive our enemies. In fact we must. Jesus would not have told us to do so if it was not important.