Romans, David, and Love for Enemies

The Death of Absalom, Gustav Dore

This week I read our Old Testament passages first before moving into the New, so by the time I read Romans, parts of 2 Samuel kept coming to mind. One part especially struck me from Romans 12 in the way we are to relate to our enemies.

David was by no means a perfect man, but he did display character unlike those around him. Starting back in 1 Samuel David has had many enemies, such as Saul, Abner, and Absalom. To these so-called enemies, David showed great respect and grace. In chapter 19 he is criticized for showing too much grief at the death of Absalom, who was his son, and his military commander complains and says David loves those who hate him.

But Romans 12 teaches us to bless those who persecute us and not to repay evil with evil. We are to love those who hate us. This certainly must be one of the most difficult commands placed upon us. We wish it could just stop at not repaying evil with evil. Couldn’t we just turn the other cheek and move along? Can’t I just walk away? To most such actions are commendable. But we’re called to do more.

It is too easy to support and encourage a perspective that views others as enemies (and not in a way to help target who we should love). We want a foil, a villain, an antagonist–someone or something to compare ourselves to and come out looking good. We’d rather demonize the enemy than sacrifice for their sake and show them love. This is not the way of the Christian.

Christ shows us a greater way, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” When we were enemies, God showed his love for us in sending Jesus Christ.

We won’t be able to match his demonstration of love, but one simple way we could start is to hold our tongues when it comes to labeling others as ‘enemy.’

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