■ By Rick Puls / Contributed
I remember filling out Valentine cards for every person in my class at school in the third grade and handing them out on Valentine’s Day. All the students in my class did the same, so I got back as many as I handed out. Then we ate those little candy hearts made out of something that looked like chalk, which had writing on them. Now I give cards to close family and friends and the candy is expensive, but much better tasting, chocolates.
I have no trouble loving my wife, my children, and my grandchildren, and expressing my love to them. However, God holds us to a higher standard of love. Jesus, talking to the crowds, once said, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). It’s a lot easier to hate my enemies, or at least dislike them, than to obey this teaching. Yet Jesus told us to do three things as an expression of love for our enemies: do good to them, and bless them, and pray for them. Wow! He seems to ask nearly the impossible of us!
I once read the story of a Korean man whose father was a pastor. The family was so poor and persecuted, the man decided at a young age not to pursue the ministry. About the time he graduated high school, the Korean War began, and his father was arrested and imprisoned. When the conflict was over, this man searched for his father but never found him, gradually realizing that more than likely his father was shot and his body burned along with a number of other Christian leaders. It was at this point that this young man dedicated himself to the Christian ministry.
When he discovered that one soldier may have been responsible for his father’s death. he became angry and tried to discover the soldier’s whereabouts for years. Yet during this time he read what Jesus said in Luke 6:28, “pray for those who mistreat you.” Out of obedience to the Lord, this young pastor prayed for the man who had mistreated his father, and continued to do so for the many years it took to find him. When he finally located this old soldier, the man was in a hospital dying of cancer. Because the pastor had prayed for this man for so many years, when he saw him in the hospital bed, he only felt compassion and led the dying man into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, giving the man hope for his life after death.
When we do good to, bless, and pray for our enemies, God often brings about two profound changes: one for the recipient of these good deeds, and the other in the person who follows these commandments, softening both hearts and changing both perspectives. If you want encouragement and practical advice on how to put this into practice, join us at Hemet Valley Christian Church on Friday, Feb. 15, for our workshop, “How to Treat Your Enemies.” We may even have some nice chocolates for you!
Dr. Rick Puls is pastor of the Hemet Valley Christian Church located on 330 South Franklin Street in Hemet and can be reached by phone at 951-925-7212.