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Love Persecutors

Loving the people that are hard to love.  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Whatever you would wish not to happen to you then you do not do to others.

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Love Persecutors

We have discussed previously the 2nd most important law to love our neighbors as ourselves. It was presented that this kind of love was a self sacrificing type of love. That it may even be that we give up our life to show this love but that not every event is an event that requires us to do so. So now we are going to go in to loving those that are hard to love. We are going to look at loving those that persecute us.
To start with let us look at
43 “You heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those insulting you and persecuting you,
45 so that you become sons of your Father in the heavens. Because He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
46 “For if you love those loving you, what reward have you? Are the tax collectors not doing the same too?
47 “And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Are the tax collectors not doing so too?
48 “Therefore, be perfect, as your Father in the heavens is perfect.
We are all familiar with this idea. We are to love our enemies. We know this academically, yet it is so hard to accomplish. That is because to accomplish this we are not just obeying a commandment we are resisting our sinful nature. To use a metaphor “It is like we are rolling a heavy burden up hill while we ourselves have a rope pulling us down the hill.”
For us to accomplish this and actually mean it is an extraordinary thing. One might think “Today I do not feel extraordinary I feel like being mediocre.” Let this never enter our minds though. For the Elohim of Israel is extraordinary and he is worthy of an extraordinary people. Instead let us pursue this course of loving those that persecute us, for in doing so we will rid ourselves of all our enemies.
The first place for us to start and our first persecutor is just simply other people. We have that famous verse the golden rule. 12 “Therefore, whatever you wish men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Torah and the Prophets.” As has been also taught in the commandments study previously we have a quote from a famous sage Hillel "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah." This is also repeated in the Didache 1:2 Therefore the way of life is this: first, to love the God who made you; second, your neighbor as yourself;  ⌊and whatever⌋  you would wish not to happen to you, then you do not do this to others. 
When we look at this concept of how to treat other people, it maybe natural for our minds to drift to families and friends. A lot of times we may hear this as a reason to not hit someone, or to not steal something, or to not make fun of another person. While all of those are true let us go deeper with the concept today and focus on how to do this to those whom would persecute us. How many of us have ever been rude or hostile to another person and they did not warrant that behavior from us in other words how many of us have ever been unjust to another person. How did we want to be treated after we found out we where wrong? Did we want to repair the situation quickly or allow it to linger? Did we want to be able to explain ourselves or just to be shut out? Did we want the opportunity to make right or to not be allowed to approach? I think we all would agree we would want to be given the chance to offer an apology (which is an explanation it is more than expressing regret or saying I am sorry), we would all want to be able to approach the other person, and if possible repair the relationship or makeup for what we did that was wrong. This is a deeper and more mature application of treating others as you would be treated. It is about the process of forgiveness and repair of wrong doings in other words in a big way it is about Tashuva or Repentance.
So what are we saying then? We are saying that doing on to other as we would have done unto us can be about helping them to perform Tashuva or repent. We actually are supposed to help the other person regret their actions and come to terms with them. We are to do so in a way that is loving and we would want a person to help us. When we think about it is that what Yeshua did for us? Did he not help us to find Tashuva going so far as to actually accept our punishment of SIN?
The 2nd persecutor we will look at is in the 2nd verse we read today.  “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those insulting you and persecuting you,”
Here we have people that persecute us with their words. We are called to bless those who curse us. The implication here is not just actions but even words. If someone speaks evil about you, if they lie about you, if they spread rumors about you, or if they just try to hinder your efforts, we are to bless them.
We are to do good for them, we are to help them, we are to speak honestly well of them, and help carry their burdens. Wow how completely different is this than the world? We will stand out for sure immediately. That does not mean we do not defend ourselves or deny false accusations, it means we do not return their evil for evil. It means we return words of love, affirmation and goodness for their evil lies and words.
The 3rd persecutor to look at is those that take from us, the thief.
The 3rd persecutor to look at is those that take from us, the thief.
40 “And he who wishes to sue you and take away your inner garment, let him have your outer garment as well.
29… And from him who takes away your outer garment, do not withhold the inner garment either.
41 “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
30 “And give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away what is yours do not ask it back.
We see this and if your thought are like mine the first I think of when I read this is we just let them get away with it. As I read it I realize it is much more than that we do not let them just get away with it we absolve them of guilt and give them ownership over the thing. That is crazy to think about.
Sometimes we get concerned about what could be taken. We can get these wild images of our house or car being stolen and to live this way we just let them have the house or car. Is that what this is saying is that what we should expect? If we ever get to the point in our society that people are able to steal homes or they are able to just take away a car without the authorities doing anything then we would be in a terrible state a war zone even.
What this is speaking more of is those truly in need taking what they need or asking to borrow what they can never repay. Even as we may realize that they will never be able to repay what they ask for or return what we give we are to give it to them. When stand before that throne of grace and we give an account for the the good we did in our life which do we think will make the list, the time we caught the thief and made them pay for their actions, or the time we gave away something to the the thief so that he did not need to SIN?
With all of that stated we also live in a land that has a set of laws that we are required to follow. One of those is the reporting of a crime. If we are not in a place to prevent a crime by giving away what is to be stolen then we must report it to the authorities. As well we are not responsible for the charges that the governing bodies will prosecute a person for. This is outside our responsibility. So to be clear what we are saying is not that we should not hold accountable a person to their actions, but instead that they should be given the opportunity to avoid SIN even when we are a victim of that SIN and even when it means we should help that person to avoid the SIN.
The final type of persecutor we will look at today is the violent aggressor. Yeshua taught us on this as well. It can be found in 38 “You heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’
39 but I say to you, do not resist the wicked. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
Many people have been confused about this statement. Many people think this is an ultimate statement about all violence and that the Christian should have no part of it. This may not be an accurate understanding.
Institute for Scripture Research, The Scriptures (South Africa: Institute for Scripture Research (Pty) Ltd, 2000), .
The first thing to understand is this may not be describing weakness but meekness. What is the difference? Weakness is when we do not have strength meekness is when we do have strength but choose not to use it. So in this verse the action described is not pacifism but mercy. The one who turned the cheek is sparing the other person or giving them another chance. We see an example of this with David and Saul. David could have taken Saul’s life and did not do so even when it was justified for him to do so.
Another alternative understanding to this is violence in the site of overwhelming oppression. We do not need to take up a fight we cannot win. We do not have to fist fight a tank. This is actually discussed in 25 יהוה is good to those waiting for Him,
The Scriptures Chapter 3

25 יהוה is good to those waiting for Him,

To the being who seeks Him.

26 It is good—both to wait and to be silent,

For the deliverance of יהוה.

27 It is good for a man to bear a yoke in his youth.

28 Let him sit alone and be silent,

Because He has laid it on him.

29 Let him put his mouth in the dust,

There might yet be expectancy.

30 Let him give his cheek

To the one who smites him—

He is filled with reproach.

31 For יהוה does not cast off forever.

asdf25 יהוה is good to those waiting for Him,
To the being who seeks Him.
26 It is good—both to wait and to be silent,
For the deliverance of יהוה.
27 It is good for a man to bear a yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone and be silent,
Because He has laid it on him.
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust,
There might yet be expectancy.
30 Let him give his cheek
To the one who smites him—
He is filled with reproach.
31 For יהוה does not cast off forever.
In this we remember that our Heavenly Father does not make us wait forever. He will answer our call.
What this verse is not about is abuse from the hands of our loved ones. These verses are directed towards enemies. A loved one is not an enemy. We are not asked nor expected to sit by and allow a loved one to abuse us. Not only do we have the right but also the expectation to hold them accountable. If there is abuse in a marriage it is wrong and these verses do not apply. We have that famous verse 8 and the two shall become one flesh,’ so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 “Therefore what Elohim has joined together, let man not separate.” It is pretty clear the 2 are one. Therefore as one flesh we discipline ourselves to what is right. If a spouse abuses the other the abused not only should but is required to bring discipline to the other just as they would discipline themselves. Whats more is the verse says let man not separate that includes either spouse. Abuse is an attempt to separate no matter our intention at the time that is what it is.
9 “Therefore what Elohim has joined together, let man not separate.”
Institute for Scripture Research, The Scriptures (South Africa: Institute for Scripture Research (Pty) Ltd, 2000), .
So in closing we must understand when we are called to love our enemies what does that mean. We have looked at the enemy that is the stranger, the enemy that is the liar and slanderer, we have looked at the enemy that is the thief, and finally we looked at the enemy that is the violent oppressor. What happens when we apply this in our lives. It will end about 50% of the fruitless arguments immediately. It stops anger in its tracks. It stifles vengeance and hate almost immediately. This is true change in the world and is what we actually are praying for when we ask our heavenly father to help us return good for evil. In fact if we live this way what will end up happening is we will find ourselves struggling to even keep this commandment as we struggle to even find an enemy that we can love. All of our enemies will have become our friends.
Institute for Scripture Research, The Scriptures (South Africa: Institute for Scripture Research (Pty) Ltd, 2000), .
Institute for Scripture Research, The Scriptures (South Africa: Institute for Scripture Research (Pty) Ltd, 2000), .
Institute for Scripture Research, The Scriptures (South Africa: Institute for Scripture Research (Pty) Ltd, 2000), .
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