The Sermon on the Mount #10 - Love Your Enemies
The Sermon on the Mount #10:
Love Your Enemies
Text: Matt. 5:43-48
Thesis: To note the indiscriminate and selfless love that Christians are to have for all
people, even their enemies.
(1) “Love” is something that many people talk about, but few people truly consistently put it into practice.
(2) Let us attempt to better understand what “love” truly is so that we can consistently put it into practice.
I. The Problem (v. 43):
A. Here, Jesus quotes Leviticus 19:18 and includes the rabbinic addition of “hating your enemy.”
B. The problem with the addition is that it is no where supported in the Old Testament.
1. For example, Exodus 23:4-5 states: “If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.” (cf. Deut. 22:1-4)
2. Also, Proverbs 25:21 mentions: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.”
C. Why then did the Jews make such an addition?
- Basically, because they understood the term “neighbor” to include only their fellow Israelites and some even felt that it was their duty to hate everyone else (see Hughes 140).
II. The Solution (vv. 44-48):
A. As before, Jesus goes back to God’s original intent and here demands that we are to love our enemies (v. 44).
1. “Love” (Gr. agape) here is “a deliberate, intelligent, determined love – an invincible goodwill toward them [i.e., enemies]” (Hughes 143).
2. “The fact that the text mentions ‘enemies’ (plural) suggests that Jesus means personal enemies who are presently doing us harm” (Hughes 141).
3. “To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; to return good for evil is divine” (Alfred Plummer, Matthew, p. 89).
4. In other words, “neighbor” includes our enemies.
5. One way of demonstrating this love is to pray for our enemies (cf. Luke 23:34).
B. To love our enemies is to love like God (vv. 45 & 48).
1. “That you may be sons of your Father in heaven” is a Hebrew way of saying that you will be like your heavenly Father.
2. God is indiscriminate with His “common grace.”
3. God is also indiscriminate with the offer of His “saving grace,” but only those who accept it will be able to enjoy the blessings connected with it.
4. If we are to be “perfect” (i.e., complete), then we must love like God.
C. Not loving our enemies is loving like the rest of the world (vv. 46-47).
1. Loving only those who love you is loving like the “tax collectors.”
a. Tax collectors “were crooks, rich crooks, and they were loathed by everyone – especially the Jews, because the collectors were employers of the Gentiles” (Hughes 142); thus, this illustration would have gotten everyone’s attention.
b. The truth of the matter is that there is really no reward in only loving those who love you because most everyone else already does that.
2. As Christians, we are to love “more than the others.”
- “The Christian is the man who is above, and goes beyond, the natural man at his very best and highest … There are many people in the world who are not Christian but who are very moral and highly ethical, men whose word is their bond, and who are scrupulous and honest, just and upright. You never find them doing a shady thing to anybody; but they are not Christian, and they say so. They do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and may have rejected the whole of the New Testament teaching with scorn. But they are absolutely straightforward, honest and true … Now the Christian, by definition here, is a man who is capable of doing something that the best natural man cannot do. He goes beyond and does more than that; he exceeds. He is separate from all others, and not only from the worst among others, but from the very best and highest among them” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Sermon on the Mount, Vol. 1, pp. 174-75).
(1) How are you doing with loving your enemies?
(2) With God’s help and your desire to imitate God, you can love them as you should.