” Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
A vast majority of today’s followers of Jesus are very adept at finding self-justification in ignoring these strong words of Jesus. And yet, He would be quick to point out to us how wrong we are in our choosing disobedience rather than to love our enemies. Loving an enemy may well be the hardest thing He calls us to, and He knows the difficulty for He also told us in John 15:5 that this kind of behavior can only be accomplished as we ‘abide in Him’; “for without Me ye can do nothing.”
Well, does the Bible give us any idea how this love for an enemy might look? Yes, but this does not make the task we are called to any easier. However again, He told us we could not accomplish this without Him. 1 Corinthians 13 makes it all too clear what love enacted will be like, and what it will not be like.
” If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).
Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].
Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth].” (1 Corinthians 13 Amplified Bible)
And then remember, He continues with these words of instruction; “bless them that curse you.”
Sadly, it seems we are quicker to curse, to criticize, to judge harshly, than we are to make Christ relevant in our lives before those whom may even curse or otherwise offend us. James had some very pointed words about this way of verbally assassinating others:
“. . . the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:8-10 KJV)
Love? Bless? and what? “Do good to them that hate you“?
So Christian, basically Jesus expects you and I to do good things to and for people, even while they are actively hating us. Is this not part of what forgiving is all about? What was it Jesus said on His way to the Cross? “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). I believe this to be the ultimate in doing good to one who hated me! That I would do good; do the right thing, in the hopes and expectation that they might find the Father’s forgiveness for their souls.
And finally, “and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
Prayer is a debate that becomes settled in my heart. Prayer is me caring for the life and soul of the one who does not care about me. I may not be able to win a face to face disagreement over social issues and such. But, if my heart is in the right understanding of God’s will for the persons of conflict, my praying will not be hindered and they will have some kind of divine affect. Yes, pray.
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4 KJV)
May I remind you how we capture the peace of God we so often pursue in our daily struggles?
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7 KJV)
One last thought: It is always a good thing to stand firmly for and on the Word of God, but for it to be valid and have changing power over adverse situations; we must stand on all of the Word not just some of the Word. The methods we often use to point out the biblical wrongness of others actions only drive them further from the grace they so desperately need. After all, we are all sinners before a Holy God; some saved by grace, others not yet. Our reactions may make the difference in the eternal state of a soul. Love. Bless. Do good. Pray.