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Five Lessons on Loving Your Enemies
ReligiousLiberty.TV ^ | 04/01/2012 | Jason Hines

Posted on 04/01/2012 5:32:42 PM PDT by ReligiousLibertyTV

By Jason Hines

Because of situations in my own life I have been repeatedly returning to the concept of loving your enemies. I have wrestled with this issue publicly (I have preached a sermon on this subject twice) and at times in this space, but I have yet to share here my spiritual thoughts on the issue. The best place to begin is with the words of Christ. In Matthew 5:43-48 (NASB) Jesus says,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on therighteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I think it’s important to first say a little about why loving your enemies is necessary. Jesus gives us the answer in verse 48. Based on everything that has gone before in this chapter (as well as the concept of loving your enemies), Jesus says you cannot be perfect without it. The word perfect in verse 48 comes from the Greek word “teleios.”   And while “perfect” is a good translation, I think it distracts from the meaning here. Another way to translate teleios is “complete” or “mature.” So what I think Jesus is trying to say here is if you wanted to be a complete person, or a fully mature human being, loving your enemies is something that you have to do.

As we look at some of the lessons of the Bible on loving your enemies, I think there are some lessons that we can learn.

1.       Your enemies are always close to you – We talk about “haters” so much these days, and the picture of haters that always jumps to my mind are these people who you’re not really close to, or acquaintances who see all that you have and are just jealous. But the truth is that your real enemies are always close friends and family. When we look at the example of Jacob and Laban in Gen 31 we see an uncle and a nephew, a father-in-law and a son-in-law at odds with each other. In 1 Sam 24, we have a mentor and a mentee, as well as a father-in-law and a son-in- law at odds with each other in Saul and David. The animosity between Jesus and Judas is told to us in Matt 26. Of course this is Jesus with one of the 12 people he shared his ministry with. How quick we are to forsake the love we once had switch to hate.

2.       Sometimes you (or your people) are the problem – In the story of Jacob and Laban, Laban has a legitimate reason to be mad at Jacob, and Jacob doesn’t even know it. Jacob as the leader of his family is responsible for each member, and it’s his wife who has stolen Laban’s idols. Sometimes an examination of who are enemies are has to start with an examination of ourselves. How can we withhold love from someone who has a perfectly good reason to be mad at us?

3.       Sometimes it’s best to go in peace – Everything does not have to have this happy ending where everyone acts like nothing ever happened. Sometimes the best thing, the most loving thing to do for both parties is to part company. Jacob and Laban reconcile, but then they never see each other again. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Sometimes situations are so damaging that things cannot be as they were. Sometimes you have to move on. But not in that move-on way where you just never deal with it. Reconciliation is necessary.

4.       Sometimes your enemies think they were helping you – This is the topic that fascinates me. Scholars have posited the theory that Judas’s betrayal of Christ had good intentions. According to some scholars, Judas never thought that Jesus would allow Himself to be crucified. So he betrayed Jesus as a way of boxing Christ into a corner so that He would have to take action. If he gave Jesus over to the Pharisaical/Roman coalition, Jesus would finally tap into His power as the son of God and the revolution would begin. Judas was wrong. But how can we be so heartless and unforgiving in not realizing that some people really are looking out for us, as wrong as they might be? If we could look beyond our own pain, we would see that there is more love in these relationships than it first appears.

5.       The hurt helps – Here’s the odd thing about the pain that are enemies cause us – God always uses that pain to benefit us. Judas does something that’s harmful to Jesus, but we are all saved because of the hurt that Judas caused Christ. Christ’s mission is not fulfilled without Judas’s misguided action. I find myself in a better place because of the many hurts that I have had in my life. A friend of mine who is a songwriter once penned these words, “I cherish the heartbreak/ Cherish the tears/ Treasure the pain/'Cause it all brought me here.” And while I am not always able to look back fondly on all my trials, I understand the sentiment. Once I’m able to put myself in that frame of mind, I am better able to forgive, love, and accept the actions of those who have hurt me and made themselves my enemies.

By no means do I want to trivialize this subject or make it seem like an easy task. I am struggling with this subject now in my life and there are days when I am not sure that I can do what Christ asks. But then I remember that I want to be mature – I want to be complete in Christ- and it changes my view. In the same passage of Scripture (Matt 5:43-48) Jesus says something else that I thought was odd until I thought about it for a while. Right after He tells the crowd to love their enemies He says, “for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on therighteous and the unrighteous.” I wondered what this had to do with what He just said. It wasn’t until I preached this sermon that it dawned on me. Regardless of the situations that we go through with each other, we all will face sunshine and rain, good days and bad days. We are all the same – struggling human beings who are trying to figure out what life is all about and/or what God wants from us. We would all be a lot better off if we loved everyone while we were here struggling than to be looking for ways to hurt and harm each other. And it is still more useful for you to live that way, even when everyone else isn’t. Hating you haters will only harm you. We are all in this thing together, and so loving each other just seems to be an easier way of getting through life than the alternative.

Jason Hines is Associate Editor for ReligiousLiberty.TV. A Harvard Law graduate, Jason practiced commercial litigation in Philadelphia for five years and conducted seminars on religious liberty in his spare time. This gave him the opportunity to discuss issues of religious freedom with Adventists in churches all over the United States. In 2008, Jason decided to devote his life to work in religious liberty. To that end, he enrolled at the Seminary at Andrews University, where he is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Religion. He is also a PhD candidate in the Religion, Politics, and Society at the J.M. Dawson Institute for Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He originally published this article on his blog, Hinesight

TOPICS: Religion; Society
KEYWORDS: enemies; hate; jesus; love

1 posted on 04/01/2012 5:32:46 PM PDT by ReligiousLibertyTV
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To: ReligiousLibertyTV
Love your enemies all you want but when your enemies are also my enemies then you are loving my enemies. And when you love my enemies then you have acquired a brand new enemy.

2 posted on 04/01/2012 5:40:09 PM PDT by I see my hands (It's time to.. KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHER FREEPERS!)
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To: ReligiousLibertyTV

Love your enemies to death.

3 posted on 04/01/2012 6:02:36 PM PDT by MestaMachine (obama kills)
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To: I see my hands

Point taken, but it does not negate Christ’s commands. Besides, he is talking to the individual. We discussed this in SS this morning and felt that we have every right to take a stand to protect someone else, but that we were to turn the other cheek when the offense was against ourselves, personally. That’s the way America once was, for the most part. But we want to pick and choose the parts of Scripture that we like and feel like adhering to and pretend the rest do not apply. No wonder we are in the mess we are today.Truth no longer appeals to us, but we have become a lawless nation, one where everyone believes they can dow hat they want and get he law interpreted in their favor.

4 posted on 04/01/2012 6:24:28 PM PDT by Shery (in APO Land)
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To: ReligiousLibertyTV

Seeing the way God the Father responded to Judas’ act of betrayal makes me doubt the notion that Judas was well-intentioned. If he thought he was doing Jesus a good turn, why did he take the bribe?

I don’t really have any personal enemies (I guess you could say I’m my own worst enemy so maybe I should pray for myself, which I already do). There are political enemies and maybe religious enemies. I suppose I could pray for those more but they would mostly be in sense of praying they would repent and be saved.

5 posted on 04/01/2012 6:24:55 PM PDT by OrangeHoof (Obama: The Dr. Kevorkian of the American economy.)
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To: ReligiousLibertyTV

I will be forever grateful that my fourth grade teacher had our class memorize this little poem:

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flaut
______________ drew a circle that shut me out,
but love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took ___________ in.

I have said this little poem to myself many times over the last fifty years when I’ve come across people who are mean and spiteful and who have ill will toward me. A long time ago, I reckoned that it was close to praying for the person because, invariably, the mean-spiritedness changed to good will.

And yes, I pray for people who, although I wouldn’t call them enemies, they don’t seem to have my best interests at heart either.

— Jane Reinheimer

6 posted on 04/01/2012 6:31:29 PM PDT by quintr
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To: quintr

A beautiful poem to be sure. Thanks.

7 posted on 04/01/2012 9:59:34 PM PDT by ReligiousLibertyTV
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To: ReligiousLibertyTV

If we profess to be Christians, or Christ-like, then we must obey His command to love our enemies that He set the example for; He loved us even though we were His enemies before we came to know Him as our Savior.

Note to Jason: You can’t love your enemies without the help of God, because He is the strength needed to do so. Pray for Him to give you the love for your enemies and you just be the conduit.

8 posted on 04/01/2012 10:46:13 PM PDT by Blue Collar Christian (Liberals vote the way they feel, conservatives vote the way they think. NRA <BCC><)
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