Love 'Em

30 Days in Exile Devotionals - Day 20

by Roger Sappington on

Devotionals 5 min read
Luke 6:27–28

IN 401 A.D. A TEENAGE BOY BY THE NAME OF PATRICK was kidnapped by pirates from the coastline of Britannia and brought to the pagan isle of Ireland. There Patrick was enslaved to a family of sheep herders and immersed in a culture of witchcraft, spells, and spirits. His captivity was very difficult, to say the least. However, over time, Patrick began to see that God was using this great trial to draw him closer to Jesus. As Patrick spent considerable time in prayer and devotion, he began to develop love instead of hate for his captors and a desire to serve them better.

After six years of captivity, at the age of 22, Patrick was able to flee his captors and return to Britannia. Yet in the ensuing years, Patrick’s Christ-centered concern for the pagan Irish people would continue to grow. Eventually, he would train for Christian service and make the choice to return to Ireland as a missionary. God so greatly used Patrick over his thirty years of ministry that he is credited with evangelizing most of Ireland. Today, people all over the world wear green in his honor each March.

Because Patrick chose love in the face of hate, many were brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He embodied the words of Jesus in Luke 6:27-28 – “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” We may never be kidnapped and brought to a foreign land, but most of us will experience varying levels of hatefulness and hostility in our lives. However, since we bear the name of Christ, the Lord calls us to a different response to hatred than the world typically demonstrates. Like Patrick, we are to love, do good, bless, and pray for those who hate, curse, and abuse us.

Love Your Enemies
The Greek word used here for “love” is agape. Some have described this kind of love as “unconditional,” and that’s definitely the case in our calling to love our enemies. We do not love our enemies on the condition that they stop opposing us. No, we love them in the midst of their white-hot anger directed our way. Why would God call us to do something that seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom? Why would he command Christians to show favor to those who so deeply oppose them? Because that is what Jesus has done for each one of us; he loved us to the uttermost in the face of our hate. Colossians 1:21-22 reads, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” By the power of the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us we can love our enemies!

Do Good To Those Who Hate You/Bless Those Who Curse You
The reason we bless those who curse us is not because God wants us to be “nice.” Yes, we are called to express the spiritual fruit of kindness. However, the ultimate purpose of returning love for hate is that God would be glorified. Consider this verse: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). When our greatest aim in life is God’s glory, we are freed to express love in the most courageous of ways to the most undeserving of people.

Pray For Those Who Abuse You
If we are ever to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us, we must first be willing to pray for them. When we pray for those who abuse us, we see them as human beings created in God’s image, for whom Christ died. In prayer, we are brought into the presence of our merciful King who leads us to pray that we would be forgiven as we forgive others. In prayer, we are reminded of how patient the Lord has been with us and his desire for all people to come to repentance. Prayer has a way of shaping our hearts more into the mold of Christ and leading us to join the Father’s work of drawing people to the Son.

Lord Jesus, we really must rely upon your strength when it comes to loving those who mistreat us and malign our names. I naturally want to defend myself and fight back against those who sin against me. Help me to reject hatred toward my enemies and transform my heart that I may even be favorable toward them, actively choosing to bless them and pray for them. For your glory, my King. Amen.


  1. Spend some time thinking about what Jesus did for you through his life, death, and resurrection even when he knew you would be aligned against him: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
  2. Which part of the Christlike response to hatred is most difficult for you – loving, doing good, blessing, or serving?
  3. Think about who most opposes you. Maybe it is a particular person or a group of people. Ask the Lord for wisdom on how you might actively bless them today.

About the Author

Dr. Roger Sappington (D. Min. Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, M. Div. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Executive Pastor of Central Bible Church and the author of 30 Days in Exile.