Some years ago now I knew someone that I thought I could trust. I employed the person to do some work for me at home and he requested half of the total payment up front. I had a statement of the work to be done, the proposed cost and the amount that had been paid. Some work was completed, but nowhere near the amount of money that was paid. When I called him or visited him, he assured me that the work would continue and would be completed. It never was! I lost the money! My only recourse would have been to go to small claims court and then I was not assured that I would win the case.
I was angry. I felt betrayed and disappointed. I had spent money and really had nothing to show for it because he did not complete the work he promised to do. While I don’t think I got to the point of hating him, I did not have good feelings for him. While I did not ask God to smite him, I did not wish him well. I did not need anyone’s help for those feelings to conjure up within me. Have you ever had a similar experience? How did you feel when someone lied to you? How did you feel when someone cheated you? Now that you are in touch with those feelings, remember what Jesus said. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 (NRSV)
The Greek word for this love, agape, is a love that has more to do with the will than feelings, the mind rather than the heart. When we show this Christian love, it means that we want the best for even the ones who have treated us the worst. We wish them well even though they have cheated us or lied to us or done something even worse in our estimation. The only way possible for us to show agape love to such persons is only with God’s help. Is it any wonder that love should be listed as the first fruit of the Spirit? In I John 4:19, we read, “We love because God first loved us.” We could not love God, our families and friends, if God had not first loved us! Most assuredly we could not love our enemies if God had not first loved us! You and I will be able to love our enemies only with God’s help. Love, as the first fruit of the Spirit, is that which we most need to grow more into the likeness of our Savior and Lord. I am not there yet, but I am, thanks to God, a work in progress! How about you?
Dear Lord, thank you for first loving me and for bestowing upon me “the first fruit of the Spirit,” which is love, so that I may love you, my family, my friends and yes, even my enemies. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.