Jesus Teaches about Loving your Enemies: 3030 Challenge #Day 8

loving your enemies

Loving your Enemies 

When people hurt you, what is usually your first response? Do you think of love, or consider loving people who have hurt you in someway?

It is very easy to hate.

That is something that just came naturally and still comes naturally to us. Those that are close to us, those that are like us, they are the ones we love. But the opposition—those that are different and strange—our natural response is to hate them.

The word enemy means an unfriendly opponent. An enemy can be somebody who hates us and seeks to harm us or cause us trouble. An enemy can be someone who has wronged us. Or an enemy can just be somebody on the opposing side, an “unfriendly” in the sense that they are hostile to the values or beliefs that are important to us.

There are lots of areas where we can find enemies. And if we can’t find them, we can always make enemies. It’s easy. All we need are some strong differences. The meaning of enemy that most quickly comes to mind are enemy nations—those who oppose our values or those who infringe on our interests. Our latest enemy is terrorism which threatens our safety.

But we can also find enemies here at home. There are political enemies and religious enemies—those who do not value what we value or believe what we believe. Sometimes we identify individual enemies just by their nationality. Maybe you have an enemy in your business, an evil competitor. Perhaps you have a rival for another’s affections. And perhaps the word seems too strong, but we have all discovered personal enemies, people who have wronged us or hurt us.

People that hated us. And the natural thing to do is to hate them back.

Hate them for what they do or what they believe or what they value or where they came from or what they threaten to take away from us.

But there is no place in the Bible that we are told to hate.

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

The beginning of this phrase is a quote from the Old Testament (Lev. 19:18). But there is nothing in the law that told the Jews to hate their enemies.

Who is Not Worthy of Your Love?

By human standards, there are some people who are just not worthy of our love. They don’t deserve it, and so they don’t get it. It’s either a love or hate relationship. I love him. I love him not. That’s the way it works.

But Jesus has a different approach. Instead of a love OR hate relationship, he demands

A Love for Hate Relationship

Matthew 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 

By telling us not to revenge, Jesus keeps us from taking laws into our hands. By  loving and praying for our enemies, we overcome evil with good. The pharisees interpreted Leviticus 19:18 as teaching that they should love those who love in return, and Psalm 139:19-22 and 140:9-11 as meaning that they should hate their enemies. But Jesus says we are to love our enemies.

The correct way to respond to your opponent is not to hate him, but to love him. That is not natural. It’s supernatural. It’s a response that is so foreign to us that the only way we’re going to follow this instruction is by asking for God to change us.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies, even for those who persecute us? It’s prayer that often changes our hearts and moves us from the natural response to the supernatural response. I don’t have what it takes to love my enemies, but God does.

Who do You Love Who’s Not Worthy?

God’s standard is different from human standards. Instead of asking, “Who is not worthy of your love?” God asks, “Who do you love who’s not worthy?” An enemy does not deserve your love, but God says to love him anyway. It’s a love FOR hate relationship.

WHY?

Why should we love them? If we’re going to pursue something so contrary to our nature and our desires, we ought to have a good reason for doing so. Jesus tells us in verse 45 why we need to love our enemies:

 [45] that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

There’s only one reason to love your enemies. You should do it because it’s just what your Dad would do. That’s just the way God treats them. When we love our enemies, we demonstrate that we are God’s children. We prove our relationship with him. Jesus gives two examples.

 He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,

It doesn’t matter whether they are good men or evil men, God gives them His sunshine. Even if they don’t acknowledge it belongs to him! He gives them light. He gives them warmth. He makes their food grow.

and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Rain is not a negative event; it’s another positive gift. God waters the whole earth. He doesn’t just supply food for the righteous, but also for the unrighteous. God gives without distinction. He loves people indiscriminately. You don’t have to earn God’s love. Gods love is based on grace. God wants everyone to be saved. He wants everyone to know the truth.

God loves everyone and that’s why he wants us to love everyone.

God loves the people who hate him. And that’s why he wants us to love the people who hate him.

God loves the people who hate us. And that’s why he wants us to love the people who hate us.

But our love is given in return for something else. In other words, I’ll love you because you’ve earned my love or because you’re entitled to my love. You love me. So I’ll love you back.

Jesus says, anyone can do that. But you can do better.

[46] If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 

There’s nothing special about loving someone who loves you. Even a low-life, traitorous, unclean, cheating thief can do that! But you can do better.

 [47] And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

The Gentiles (Pagans) did not know God. But not knowing the true God did not keep them from loving and being friendly with each other. Even the unbelievers in our time know how to love themselves and those in their lives. So the question is, if they can do that without God, then what can you do with God?

[48] Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This verse causes people a lot of headaches because taken just by itself, it sounds like Jesus is setting a standard we cannot possibly attain.

But it’s worth noting that this verse is related to the verses we’ve just been reading. The word perfect here means complete or thorough.

Jesus is talking about the way we ought to love. Loving only our friends and our family is an incomplete love that any human being can do. But loving your enemy—loving those that hate you and those that hate God—that kind of love is mature and fully developed. And that’s the kind of love that God has. So go the whole way in loving just as God does. Our love should be like God’s love. We should follow our Father’s example.

We Christians longs to reveal God’s justice by hating those who oppose him.

But God longs for the church to reveal his love for even those who oppose him.

As a Christian,  How do you treat the people in this world who hate God, who reject his truth and live by their own behavioral standards?

Do you love them?

Lets discuss in the comment section.

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  • We do need His grace for this hard obedience, don’t we. Thanks for giving us Scriptural directives to improve our relationships on this planet.

  • We do need His grace for this hard obedience, don’t we. Thanks for giving us Scriptural directives to improve our relationships on this planet.

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