Love Your Enemies. We continue our series of devotions on the Words of Christ with Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount. He encourages us to do what, by ourselves is actually quite impossible!
43 “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, 45 that
you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on
the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48, NKJV
(See also Luke 6:27-36)
If the previous message from Christ was difficult to receive, then today's words of Christ are even harder to bear. We were encouraged by Christ to go the extra mile. If our enemy asks us to go one mile, we should willingly go two miles. Yet in these verses, the Lord Jesus Christ's words to the disciples, and thus to us as well, encourage us to do more than just go the extra mile. Christ urges us to love our enemies.
Is that even possible? Certainly that must be what the disciples were thinking when they heard the words of Christ. How do you love someone who curses you? How do you love someone who spitefully uses you and persecutes you? How do you love someone who has murdered a friend or loved one? Jesus ended Matthew 5 with these words:
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." What did Christ mean?
Certainly, on this earth, we can never actually attain perfection, so what was Jesus really saying? Paul, in 1 Corinthians, gave us a wonderful commentary on these very principles. Believers in the church of Corinth were taking one another to the courts to resolve their issues, but Paul said, that according to Christ, they were wrong in doing so.
7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:7-11, NKJV
His words, "And such were some of you," must have pricked their very consciences! Before we became Christians, how did we appear before God? Is there any reason that God should have chosen us to become believers? No! Did God see some good in us, and therefore said, "Choose that one?" No! Before God, we were nothing. Our sin was so great that we would have been separated from Him forever but for the blood that Christ shed to pay for our sins.
So, as we view the unlovely of this world, especially those who have wronged us, what are we to think? We are to consider that what they really need is Christ! We are to love them and to pray for them, that God would reach down and pluck them out of the very furnace of hell, just as He did for us!
"Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to them who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."
Those are the words of Christ; that is the heart of the Gospel. That is what it really means to be a Christian! May God make us more and more like Christ so that His love shines forth, even upon our enemies!