Skip to comments.Five Lessons on Loving Your Enemies
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,
I think its 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.
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 doesnt even know it. Jacob as the leader of his family is responsible for each member, and its his wife who has stolen Labans 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 its 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 dont 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 Judass 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 Heres the odd thing about the pain that are enemies cause us God always uses that pain to benefit us. Judas does something thats harmful to Jesus, but we are all saved because of the hurt that Judas caused Christ. Christs mission is not fulfilled without Judass 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 Im 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 wasnt 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 isnt. 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.
Love your enemies to death.
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.
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.
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
A beautiful poem to be sure. Thanks.
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.
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