Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them].
Loving as Jesus loves is the greatest challenge. The enemy, the world and our flesh all conspire against us in this regard. They tell us to love only as we are loved and to pay back evil for evil. They tell us to assign love based on merit instead of mercy. They tell us to dole out as we see fit and withhold as we see fit. God, however, gives us no such commands. We are called to a higher standard by which our love manifests to all people in all situations. We are called to love without condition for the purpose of living out a testimony to God’s own grace and mercy.
The reason God does not call us to love only those who love us is because that is counterfeit love. The sinful man already knows how to love his friends and hate his enemies without any consideration for God, although this is not real love [Luke 6:32-36]. To love like Jesus is to love righteously, and that cannot be accomplished by the sinful man. That can be accomplished only by the justified man operating with the help of the Holy Spirit. We can give only what we receive, and we cannot love as Jesus loves until we experience that love through a relationship with Him. Those who have rejected the love of Christ could not possibly impart it to others, but we can impart it to them.
When we love the world as Christ does, we stand as a testament to His mercy and grace, which is what brought Him to the cross for the sake of our restoration. When we see the lengths to which Jesus went to show His love for us, it is no wonder that this kind of love is the hardest thing for us to do. Father, increase Your Spirit within the church so that we can love the world as Christ loves it as a testament to Your holiness and a picture of the great sacrifice of Christ.