Loving Your Enemies
Oswald Chambers had a powerful observation in relation to this passage. “We live in two universes: the universe of common sense, in which we come in contact with things by our senses, and the universe of revelation, with which we come in contact by faith.” We are a spiritual people called to look at life in its entirety through a spiritual perspective. Jesus didn’t live with a sacred or secular viewpoint; it was all sacred as it should be with those of us who follow Him. Now He continues to confront us with truth that can only be experienced as we let Him live through us.
Matthew 5:43–44 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”
You have heard that it was said, The Scribes and Pharisees were teaching that “neighbor” was limited to fellow Israelites. So, they taught the Jews to love the Jews, but to regard everybody else as an alien and an enemy. Indeed, they went so far as to suggest it was their business, almost their right and their duty to hate all such people. The Jews regarded all non-Jews as dogs and in turn, many Gentiles despised them. There were many zealous Pharisees and scribes who thought they were honoring God by despising everyone not a Jew. Take caution whenever you find yourself despising another group of people.
‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ The Jew’s spent a great deal of energy trying to narrow down to whom they were to love. Jesus spoke to them about this very question in the parable of the Good Samaritan where we see the hero of the story was a Samaritan. So, like us, the Jews attempted to limit their responsibilities to love.
But I say to you, love your enemies, Easy to do when you have no enemies; and humanly impossible when you do. Jesus modeled this in a very powerful way. When His enemies tried to triumph over Him He didn’t respond by having them destroyed. He didn’t call upon the legions of angels at His disposal. He loved them and went sacrificially to the cross as an expression of that love. He gave Himself selflessly, took their abuse, and their sin so He could give them His righteousness.
Christian love is not limited to the lovely. The world loves the lovely, the rich, and the famous. God calls us to the humanly impossible. He commands us to love our enemies. Instinct tells us to hate our enemies and protect ourselves from them. It is humanly impossible to love your enemy; only God can do it. That’s the beauty of it. He gave us His life to live His through us. We can come to Him and say, “Lord I don’t have any love for this one who has hurt me, but I allow you to love them through me.” In the flesh, the life of self-sufficiency, Jesus’ words are a horrible burden but by resting in Christ they are life!
Christian love is an act of the will. Since love is a matter of the will, feelings don’t matter as truth, so it is always possible. Love is always expressed through action. By an act of will, we can always love regardless of our feelings. When the scripture speaks about Jesus’ love it always leads us to the cross.
bless those who curse you, When no one is cursing you it is easy to bless them. However, humanly impossible when someone is cursing you. We respond to bitter words with kind words only when we allow Christ to live through us.
do good to those who hate you, This goes beyond mercy by not giving people what they deserve. It is about grace and giving people what they don’t deserve – goodness. It is exactly what Jesus does for us. Our goodness has nothing to do with our behavior. We deny self and allow Him to express His life through us. Remember we are citizens of a different kingdom and serve a different king. When you let the behavior of others determine your behavior you become a slave to those who hate you! Jesus calls us to the place where others don’t control us; where we are not responders but initiators.
and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, Jesus didn’t ask His Father to curse those who put Him on the cross, He sought their forgiveness. When Jesus reigns in our hearts it will be the same for us. Stephen was being stoned for speaking the truth and He too prayed for His persecutors’ forgiveness.
This is a lot to take in and can seem counterintuitive but ask the Holy Spirit in you to show how to appropriate the words of Jesus throughout the week. Without the Life of God in us, it’s humanly impossible. He longs to express His life through us.
Have a super blessed week.
You are loved!