Are You Kidding! I Must Love Them As Well?
Are You Kidding! I Must Love Them As Well? “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 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, 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48) THE COMMAND This is what the passage calls us to do: love our enemies. (Verses 43-44) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 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, There are certain people that we find that are easy to like or love, and then there are those who we just can’t really stand and would rather have nothing to do with. An enemy is certainly one of those people that we would rather have nothing to do with. Our enemies generally have no common ground with us, and usually they are not interested in our well-being or if we are successful, in fact they will most likely want to see us fail. The definition of an enemy: someone who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something. We all have enemies; we would be deceiving ourselves to think otherwise. Even Jesus had enemies and was actually making some while teaching this to the people. Our Heavenly Father gave Moses the Law and in it He directs not only His people back in Leviticus, it is also meant for all of us today who have chosen to follow Him. In our text today that we are covering, Jesus, for the Sixth time in this chapter, as He speaks to the people uses the phrase “You have heard that it was said.” Why is that? The scribes and the Pharisees (who won’t very fair you see) had taken the Mosaic Law and added little twists to them to suit them, so that it would appear that they alone could keep the law making themselves self-righteous. The Mosaic Law commands us to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). However, there were some teachers during the days of Jesus who had added an opposite command, this opposite was an evil thought unattended by God which was an misapplication of the Law; an equal obligation to hate your enemy. I have said this before, however, it bears repeating. It’s my belief that religion is one of the enemies’ biggest tools to use. Look at all the different religions in the world and then in Christianity all the different denominations, sadly of which not all can agree and get along with to Satan’s delight. God’s Word is our guidebook, the Lie Whisperer knows that and believe it or not knows what it says. He is a master of deception and can twist the Word to benefit him, which is what he had done through the scribes and Pharisees; this is why Jesus was giving the Sermon on the Mount. Does God hate? Indeed He does, He abhors evil and tells us to do so as well in Romans 12:9. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. God does love mankind but He also abhors evil and hates the evildoers (sinners) as we can see in Psalm 5:5-6. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. Fourteen times in the first fifty Psalms alone we see the hatred of God towards evildoers and how His wrath is upon them. We must not forget this idea is not only confined to the Old Testament. Again, thinking back on God’s love toward all mankind mentioned in John 3:16; the Lie Whisperer would have all of us believing that God would overlook our sin because of His love. John 3:36 tells us exactly what God will do to those who reject Him and His Son. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on Him. Why am I pointing this out when we are told to love our enemies? This is why; it's not our place to neither judge nor condemn. Even Jesus stated that in John 3:17; “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved". Therefore, it's not our place to judge or condemn; that is our Heavenly Fathers place. Jesus commands us to “Love our enemies”. Now, was no easy task, for the people of that day, especially since they had been taught to hate them and of course it’s human nature since the fall of man to hate those who are against you. The same applies to us today as well, it’s hard to love, if not impossible, those who persecute you and are your enemy. God Himself set the example for us by sending Jesus, as so noted in John 3:16, to save fallen man. Every one is in need of a savior because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and because of that sin we were all enemies of God as so noted in Colossians 1:21. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. God is love and His Son Jesus embodies that love. He came in an act of love to save even His enemies (us) from eternal damnation and separation from God. Because of that, Jesus set the example on how we too can love our enemies, which is all people, not just a select few. We do this by loving them, blessing them, doing well to them and praying for them. Yes, this is indeed a difficult task and if left to our own means to do it, dare I say impossible. However, with God nothing is impossible, He will give you (us) the tools through the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this task. A key to loving is being able to forgive, if we cannot forgive our enemies we certainly will not be able to love them. So, before you pray for your enemy you must first ask God that He would change your heart and give you that ability, and this He will do. The scribes and the Pharisees taught that neighbors were those that were close to us, people that we associate with or of the same belief. They actually taught that if they weren't Israelites they were enemies. Jesus reminded them that was not how God intended it; all people are our neighbors, even our enemies. And to truly fulfill the law He set forth we are to love, bless, do good and pray for our enemies, as well as our friends. As we do all those things it’s very hard to hate someone. Jesus understood that we will have enemies, yet we are to respond to them in love, trusting that our Heavenly Father will protect our cause (because when we are doing His will it’s His cause as well) and destroy our enemies in the best way possible, by transforming them into our friends. Years ago, I worked in a manufacturing facility. There was roughly a 100 employees and I was the only believer. I would be at my workstation and always had my radio tuned to a Christian radio station. I was constantly under attack, surrounded by unbelievers (enemies of God). One man in particular took great joy in trying to cause me to stumble. As God would have it, I had to go to this man every time I ran out of material to work on, and when I did he would reach into his drawer and pull out a filthy porno magazine and try to show me the pictures. I would flee back to my workstation pleading with God to help me and for that man. This went on for over a period of almost three years. Then one day the boss had made some changes and the next thing I knew was that we had been placed in the same work station, much to both of our displeasure. All I could do was pray, as we worked with our backs to each other. One day another employee came over to criticize Steve’s work and unbridled rage he through the material against the wall cursing and using God’s name in vain. All I could do was cringe and pray as I sat there and continued to work. A short time later I heard his stool being set down beside me as he took a seat. He than asked if he could ask me a question, I nodded yes. He asked me “How I could always remain so at calm in this work environment?” God had just opened the door for me to share the gospel and I did, about a week later, my enemy had become my friend and brother in the Lord. THE REWARD 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? (Verses 45-47) This is the result of obeying the call of the passage; being sons of the Heavenly Father in heaven. Earlier, I mentioned how God loved all of mankind and referenced John 3:16 in regards to that. When we obey the first portion of this section of scripture Matthew 5:43-44), we are imitating God, who shows love towards His enemies, by sending rain on the just and on the unjust. Even though the earth is full of enemies of God (those who reject Him) He still blesses them by allowing them to enjoy the basic necessities, which is provided the earth, such as the rising and setting of the sun and rain that waters the earth. This is how Charles Spurgeon says it. “You see our Lord Jesus Christ’s philosophy of nature. He believed in the immediate presence and working of God. As the great Son of God he had a very sensitive perception of the presence of His Father in all the scenes around Him, and hence He calls the sun God’s sun-‘He maketh His sun to rise.’ As though He did not regard human character at all, God bids His sun shine on good and bad. As though He did not know that any men were vile, He bids the shower descend on just and unjust. Yet He does know, for He is no blind deity. He does know; and He knows when His sun shines on yonder miser’s acres that it is bringing forth a harvest for a churl. He does it deliberately. When the rain is falling yonder upon the oppressor’s crops, He knows that the oppressor will be the richer for it, and means that he should be; He is doing nothing by mistake and nothing without a purpose. What does God say to us when He acts thus? I believe that He says this: ‘This is the day of free grace; this is the time of mercy.’ The hour for judgment is not yet, when He will separate between the good and the bad; when He will mount the judgment seat and award different portions to the righteous and to the wicked.” When we obey Christ’s command to love our enemies as He did, it is in heaven where we will receive that reward of being called sons of God. This teaching of Christ is teaching us the character of His followers on how to be citizens of His kingdom. And of course this character is to be the complete opposite of the one in the world. There are a number of good reasons why more is to be expected from Christians than those who are not: They claim to have something that others do not have; they claim to be renewed, repentant, and redeemed by Jesus Christ. They do in fact have something that others do not have; they are in fact renewed, repentant, and redeemed by Jesus Christ. Are you? They have a power that others do not have; they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. They have the Spirit of God dwelling within them. Do you? They have a better future than others do. THE DIRECTIVE WITH A PROMISE FROM GOD: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Verse 48) If any person could live the way that Jesus has instructed us in this 5th chapter of Matthew, they would be perfect. Jesus told us to never hate, slander or speak evil of another person. Are you practicing that? We are instructed to never lust in our heart or mind, and to not covet anything. Are you practicing that? We are told to never make a false oath, and to always be truthful. Is your yes, yes, and your no, no, are you truthful? Jesus told us our Father would defend our personal rights, and not to take it upon ourselves to defend those rights. Are you trusting God to defend you? And finally we are told to love our neighbors, yes, even our enemies. Does the love of Christ flow through you to everyone? Matthew 22:37-40 None of us can accomplish any of this without the power of the Holy Spirit, who is given to all who repent and call on the saving name of God’s own perfect Son, Jesus Christ. Today is the day of salvation; don’t put off God’s calling to receive His amazing gift of eternal life, for tomorrow is not guaranteed. We would do well to heed the words of the Apostle Paul from 1 Timothy 1:5, Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.