This past week I preached about the importance of watching what we say. Why? “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37)
Ouch! That’s a tough verse to swallow if we really take it seriously. In light of that, I remembered this post that I wrote originally three years ago which gets to the core of why watching our words is so difficult to do. Hope you enjoy!
What’s harder: loving your enemies or loving your friends?
I know the question sounds like a no-brainer. It’s such a dumb question that it’s not even worth answering. “Of course it’s easier to love your friends than it is to love your enemies,” you’d say. How could anyone think otherwise?
Now before I get too deep into this post, let me say that I fully realize that my world isn’t the same as everyone else’s. I don’t live in a world where I’m persecuted for my faith. I don’t live in a world where I have to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin. I don’t live in a world where I can easily identify one person or one group of people as “my enemy” (Cowboys fans excluded 🙂 )
So I realize that my perspective probably wouldn’t be the same as someone living amidst persecution or bigotry or tyranny of any kind. If that’s where you’re living, then you are the one who is qualified to speak about loving enemies, not me.
But for me – and the rest of us living without any real enemies or persecution – back to the original question. Which is harder: to love your enemies or to love your friends?
In my opinion, it isn’t even close. It’s much more difficult to love my friends than it is to love my enemies. How can that be? Because here’s a principle of life:
The more you deal with someone, the harder it is love to them. There’s a verse in the Bible which I believe might just be the hardest commandment of all.
“Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.” (James 5:9)
Ouch! Did you hear what that said? It didn’t say “don’t FIGHT with one another” or “don’t CURSE one another” or “don’t TALK BAD behind one another’s backs.” All those things are bad and we know we shouldn’t do them. But this verse drew the line much closer to home.
It said don’t GRUMBLE against one another. What does grumble mean? It means:
- Don’t complain about one another
- Don’t criticize one another (both publicly and privately, externally and internally)
- Don’t roll your eyes at one another
- Don’t get fed up with one another
- Don’t write a person off because they made a mistake or let you down
Is that easy? Is that easy to do with people that you deal with day in and day out?
Not for me! For me, it would be much easier to just say I love someone that I have no dealing with than to try to “not grumble” against the people that I see and deal with every day.
The hardest person to love isn’t the person on the other side of the world. You can force yourself to love that person without any real sacrifice on your part. That love isn’t affecting your day to day life.
But loving your friends is different. It’s hard work. It’s a daily sacrifice. It’s the kind of thing that requires a lot more than most of us want to give. But that’s where real love kicks in.
For discussion: do you agree or disagree with my opinion that loving your friends is harder than loving your enemies? Why or why not?