Day 5

Making Room for Your Betrayers

Exodus 23:4-5, Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 6:27-36, John 18:15-18, John 21:15-19, Colossians 3:12-13

BY Lore Ferguson Wilbert

This is a true story.

I invited my enemy to dinner on purpose. There was no applause or great relief or gratefulness on her part. After all, she didn’t know she was my enemy. She didn’t know the words she’d said about me had made their way back to my ears. She didn’t know how wounded I’d felt by her piercing remarks about my life, my home, my personality, and my portion.

She didn’t know God had set that table for me in the presence of my enemy. And so, she enjoyed my wine and my bread, my Brussels sprouts with bacon, my perfectly roasted pork tenderloin, and my chocolate brownies, still gooey from the oven and topped with a small dollop of ice cream. She ate it all up and still left my enemy. Months later, more of her words made their way back to me, and I planned another dinner, determined to win her affections, her heart, her repentance, or at least the absence of her criticism.

This is a true story, of sorts, but not entirely the way I’ve told it to you. The truer story is that I was the enemy and God was my ever-present and gracious host. Again and again, He laid the feast before me, knowing the wounds of words like mine. Yet He invited me back again, and again, and again. This is the God who loves us.

I have often thought about the small verse that follows Peter’s first denial: “Now the servants and the officials had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold. They were standing there warming themselves, and Peter was standing with them, warming himself” (John 18:18).

I think, here was Peter, denying Christ and warming himself by a fire God created. But Peter was not just denying his relationship with Christ. In a way, he was also denying Christ’s divinity. He partook of the hospitality of God in the common grace of warmth on a cold night and then left the fire as if he were God’s enemy.

We are no different.

There are books aplenty with ideas for dinner parties and table settings, inspirational images and four-course meal plans, but there is no recipe for showing hospitality to those who have cursed you, except one: the imitation of God. With unimaginable hospitality, God creates a feast, and invites all the world—His own creation—to partake of it. He does so in the face of our repeated wrongs done against Him.

Our gracious God invites His enemies to warm themselves by the fire. He spreads out a table in their presence (Psalm 23:5). He rescues the oxen of those who hate Him (Exodus 23:4–5). He blesses those who curse Him (Luke 6:28)—and on and on. His hospitality knows no bounds.

The story I began with is true of me, and it’s true of you too; we were enemies of God (Romans 5:10). But the story is also true in other ways. There are those who have gossiped about me, who have slandered and cursed and wronged me. Yet God invites me to imitate Him. The world says to stop offering grace, to withhold good until it’s deserved. But the gospel saves the best wine for last, and it sets an even finer spread than each and every time before.

Post Comments (166)

166 thoughts on "Making Room for Your Betrayers"

  1. Sophia Williams says:

    Reading the comments below reminds me I am not alone in these struggles to approach difficult relationships and negative situations. Meeting hate with kindness is hard but I know whenever I do I feel better for it. The Word is moving me today to reflect on many situations where I have/haven’t done this.

  2. Lindee Shillington says:

    This was so timely. I found out today that someone who became an enemy 10 yrs ago for reasons still unclear to me is moving to my city. She will know almost no one and we will have a chance to reconnect. I have the chance to lay aside whatever caused strife all those years ago and begin fresh and full of grace. I don’t want her afraid to meet me again and I want to be Jesus to her. Perhaps our relationship will mend after 10 years! It will be hard to set aside our history and move forward but I trust God and want to reflect his character and hospitality as she gets to know her new home city. Praying for God’s grace!

  3. Nelly Villanueva says:

    Oh how many times I have loved the world more that God and we know what that means, this morning a sister from my church canceled our daughters play date and I was about to confront her ( it is not the first time she does that) but instead I chose to be merciful like my Father, just like Hi is with me all the time.

  4. Katelyn Jenkins says:

    I have family members that time and time again order me around, treat me as less than, and think that they can control me to do what they think is best for me. Then, the next day they will have me over for dinner, offer to do something for me, etc. It is SO HARD to constantly be ridding myself of hard feelings towards them in order to love them like Jesus does, to turn the cheek every single time. This is something I have dealt with for years on end and although past times I have allowed the devil to stir up turmoil through this — I’m glad to say today, I’m doing better. It is a constant struggle to love people that wish nothing but to get a rise from you. I know I am not the only ones with even family members that are like this. ♥️

  5. Lyndsey Reck says:

    Why do we so often think people must first deserve grace before we extend it to them? That is not the Gospel, nor how God treats us. The grace is always extended to us — to everyone! We just have to take it, soak in it, or better yet, drown in it! Let us not withhold from others, friends and enemies alike, what Christ so freely, eagerly, and endlessly gives to all — G R A C E

  6. Megan Mansheim says:

    Man oh man is this the hardest part of the steak to chew up and swallow. My flesh wants to hate my enemies but the Word plainly tells us to forgive them and love them harder. True biblical hospitality truly take dying to your own flesh day in and day out!

  7. Robin NHendrich says:

    Extending grace and mercy to those who have wronged us, it’s not the first time I heard those words. But with the readings today. I’m starting to understand WHY. Again the WHY isn’t new information, but my eyes keep opening more each time I read these passages. Over and over without question, without a tally of how many wrongs, God continues to invite us to join him. And yet, as humans, we don’t do the same to those who have wronged us. What does inviting our enemies in look like? What does not keeping a tally of the wrongs against us FEEL like?

  8. G L says:

    My enemy is my neighbor (and was my best friend for 10+ years). This devotional is bittersweet, it comes at a time when I need to truth of the Gospel more than ever. I need to remember that before I decided to walk with Jesus, I was also His enemy, disgraceful and disobedient. I need to remember the grace and mercy he extended and extend it to those who have caused the most pain by forgiving them. Im finding forgiveness doesn’t mean, that you reconcile with them (as there are such things as toxic and destructive relationships) but be reconciled to our the perfect redeemer, our Heavenly Father.

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