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The Most TERRIFYING Words Jesus Ever Said

As he left the room, I was in complete shock that a person would ever talk to another professional that way. I only had a few minutes before nearly 100 students would be in my classroom ready to sing their little hearts out so I shut down my emotions and put a smile on my face.

A few hours later, I placed my hands on the steering wheel after a long, hard day when water suddenly came pouring out of my eyes. As a man, I shouldn’t admit this secret moment to you for fear of appearing over-emotional.

“Only weak men cry” our society tells us. But I don’t buy that crap. The truth is the dam of the struggles of this past month finally couldn’t hold back the stress anymore and the water came flowing over the edge and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I am overwhelmed God.
My soul is tired and weary.

As I drove to work the next morning, anger clenched to the steering wheel while I rehearsed my big speech, a public declaration of every terrible thing this person has done to me over the past five years. When I arrived at school I knew I was much too angry and much too busy to go through with it.

After the weekend passed, my anger slowly washed out with the evening tide and a sudden and unexpected emotion took its place: compassion.

  • How powerless must a person feel to attack someone who tirelessly pours out love to students day after day after day?
  • How lonely must someone be to tear down a man who is endlessly trying to make the world a better place?
  • How lost must he be to endlessly fight against the light?

I often hear that I am too tender-hearted.
I take things too personally.
I am too gentle and I don’t stand up for myself.
I am weak and scrawny.

And perhaps this is true.

Yet, for a while now I have known that all I want is for my life to sing the melody Jesus composed for me two-thousand years ago. His song, however, is not a fight song, a battle cry or a fanfare: it’s a song of love.

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A few days later I was thinking about that terrible interaction when I realized the most terrifying words Jesus ever said:

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.”

Love my enemies? Are you freaking kidding me. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

These words are terrifying because in the moment, they seem impossible to live out.  They are horrifying because by the world’s standards, love appears weak and timid. They are gruesome because they leave no outlet for revenge and force us to find the forgiveness on our own.

Then God showed me something I didn’t want to see: this guy, while perhaps quite awful in his word choice and you know, general people skills, was not the root of the problem. The core of the issue was within me. I was still harboring a list of wrong-doing and avoiding him at all costs when God is clearly calling all of us to move towards those that need Jesus the most.

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. -Matthew 5:46-48 (MSG)

You see, every terrible interaction we have with anyone from a family member to a customer service representative is the greatest opportunity we have to set ourselves apart and show those we encounter the love of Christ. In a world that loves scandals, drama, gossip, and revenge we have the opportunity to let them bring out the best in us:

the unparalleled love of Jesus.

That love Jesus is talking about is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

So today my friends, I hope you can see a little bit of my struggle in your story. I challenge you to find the true strength the resides within all of us to love and forgive even the most unlovable people around us. While the world may never understand those terrifying words Jesus said, we know this beautiful truth:

true strength is displayed through love.

Choose to pray for compassion towards someone who only knows how to tear people down. 
Decide to let your biggest struggle bring out the best in you, not the worst.

Rise above and love like Jesus, for those are the two most impactful things any of us will ever do.


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This song can be in my Spotify Playlist, Difference Maker.

About Sam

in love with all things Jesus, music, adventure, writing, teaching, laughter, running, friendship. Founder of recklesslyalive.com.

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13 comments

  1. Wow….Your writings always speak to my heart and soul, Sam. You definitely have a way with words which make your writings so easy to relate to. I can so relate to many of the “messages” you were told as well. It is always an inspiration to see God working so powerfully through you and your experiences. I’m so thankful you share with us. And, I love this Brandon Heath song…I had the honor of hearing it live recently at the Third Day concerts. 🙂 God bless you, Sam!

  2. So good! True strength is found in love! What a great message that my heart needed to read!

  3. I think this command of Jesus is forgotten far too often! We NEED to love our enemies the way Jesus did!!!! That’s the only way the hatred in this world will end.

    • I completely agree. It’s “convenient” to forget because it is so difficult to live out. Have an awesome day my friend!

  4. Sam,

    This is a fantastic post. YES, we are called to love our enemies along with those we hold dear. And that is something that can be incredibly challenging to do.

    • Thank you so much for the encouragement Laura! So glad to connect with you. I loved your post about fear this week. Keep up the awesome work!

  5. You are an excellent writer! I think we have all been talked to that way by someone who should have been professional. It is hard to love your enemies. Thankfully there are people like you who listen to that still, small voice and do the right thing.

  6. Jesus said the law can be summed up in loving God and loving people. People it’s a bit tougher I think although both are hard. Loving our enemies and praying for those who hurt us is a tough one. Probably one of the toughest commandment in the Bible. Great reflective post!

  7. I love this. Humbling ourselves to where we allow God to work through us in compassion and tender-heartedness is not always easy, but it has the best returns. Keep on being tender, loving, and you…Jesus loves when you are you. 🙂

    Great post. 🙂

  8. Sam,
    I can so relate to this post. The loving your enemies is so tough particularly when we have been beat up on repeatedly. I am still working on myself with this one because I have to do it.

    • Karen Featherston

      Hi Mary, I read your comment after hopping over to Sam’s blog from his pin on Pinterest. I just felt moved to encourage you this morning. 🙂 It’s been a few months since your post here so I’m hoping this challenge to “Love your enemies” is turning around for you. This is something the Lord has really opened my eyes to this year. And I promise you, miracles happen when you turn anger into compassion like Sam did. Stay in God’s Word. Let Jesus’ ways permeate your thoughts (remember the old WWJD? movement – yeah, it needs to be revived). Pray for strength. Ask God to help you see everyone with His eyes. And then trust Him to stand with you when you step out in faith to bless your enemies with loving-kindness. I am praying for you, too, Mary. Peace – Karen

  9. Karen Featherston

    Sam, you Rock, dude! Pinning your past date blog posts is more timely than you know. Just in the last 48 hours I was tested in this area and if God graded on a curve, I probably made a weak C-…yeah, I knew better and could have rrsponded with more loving-kindness in several situations. But God is so good to give us His Holy Spirit to quickly awaken us to our sins and give us the opportunity to repent, change direction, and realign with Him. I literally could write a book about the miraculous transformations that have taken place when I have loved the unlovable. Everyone just wants to be validated, recognized, understood. That’s what Jesus was all about – He saw more than what his eyes alone could see, he touched people at the core of their pain. We have the God-given ability to restore lives if we’ll look past our own hurts. I am praying for you, Sam, that your situation with this person has turned around and that you are seeing the fruit of the love you’ve sown. Peace & Blessings – Karen