In 1569, Dirk Willems had a difficult decision to make. Willems was arrested by authorities who thought him a heretic and who jailed him in a high stone tower. Over time he stowed away pieces of cloth until he could make a rope and let himself down the outside wall, only to encounter a moat. Since it was winter, it was thinly iced, and his light frame permitted him to cross. Not so for the armed guard who chased him. The ice gave way, enveloping the weighty man, who cried out to Willems to save him.
He faced a decision. Turn back and help his enemy, or run for his life? He did not ignore the man’s plea but risked his life to rescue the guard, the same man who then led him back to the prison. Not long after, Willems died a martyr’s death.
Have you been in a similar situation? Perhaps you have been persecuted for your faith or lifestyle, attacked by family or friends or co-workers. Perhaps you live where civil authorities have imprisoned you or your loved ones.
As difficult as it is, can you withhold repaying evil for evil? Will you extend grace and forgiveness toward people who wound, offend, or assault you?
Later in his letter, Peter says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Dear God, your love extends even to your enemies. Help me grasp that, like Jesus, I am to turn my cheek instead of fighting back. Help me hold my tongue and speak truth in love when taunted or ridiculed. Help me participate with Jesus in his suffering so that one day I may know your glory. Amen.
Go Deeper — Did someone come to mind as you read this devotional — someone God is calling you to love supernaturally today? Invite the Spirit to show you how you can reach out in love to that person, then obey in his strength.
Read Further — How do we love the unlovable? By faith. Discover more about loving by faith by reading Five Steps to Loving Someone You Don't Even Like today.
Photo Credit: Luz Mendoza