God Promises to Help you Love Your Enemies
Suggested Reading: Matthew 5:43-48
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven.—Matthew 5:43-44.
As you are reading the Gospels can you see how our Lord taught on love, often? How he took time to teach his followers—and that includes us—concerning the things that we are to do, especially if we want to be sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, which includes loving our enemies. Maybe, because he knew it is one thing to say we love our enemies when we don’t have any, but another thing to muster the love and character of Christ when we are confronted with a real enemy; when we can put a name and a face to the word “enemy” in the dictionary. Love and forgiveness in the abstract are not difficult to practice but loving and praying in the face of a real enemy activity and hatred are quite another.
Most of us don’t want to love our enemies. We are just fine with the feelings and attitude we have toward them. But Christ says differently. He speaks from what he knows. He witnessed the damage that was done when love was nonexistent. When people could only hate and act out of that hate. How much time the Savior must have spent alone with the Father praying for us that our hearts of stone would be turned into hearts of love. Not the mushy, cushiony kind of love we are accustomed to, that makes us hold hands and sing kumbaya together but the love that comes out of a regenerated heart and transformed mind, the kind of love we first experience and learn from the Father and the Son.
Because Jesus is love he knew he was not in danger of doing anything other than loving, but he knew loving others, and especially our enemies was and remains a challenge for us. We are in spiritual and emotional danger when we will not love, refuse to love, determine not to love. In his sermon Jesus preaches it is easy to love those who love us, but another matter for us to love those who will not love us, mistreat us and persecute us. Jesus knew how much it takes to love those who do not love you (back). He knows we are result and reward oriented and question what reward there is in loving those who will not return it?
He knows the kind of energy and selflessness it takes to pray for your enemies. He had to see and encounter those every day who made it a point to oppose him at every turn, those who not only wanted him silenced, but wanted him dead. Jesus is love so it would not be out of the ordinary that the devil would try to tempt him to do otherwise. When he told the disciples not to do anything, not to leave Jerusalem until the power of the Holy Spirit had come upon them, he knew from experience every aspect of the Christian life must be lived from this power. We cannot do anything, including loving our enemies, without the Spirit’s help.
Satan will come to tempt us—and he does not give up easily—to return hate for hate, dislike for dislike, brutality for brutality, gossip for gossip, slander for slander, mean-spiritedness for mean-spiritedness. Satan would like us to hate those who hate us, but Christ says otherwise. We are not to give Satan the victory or the devil the satisfaction but instead we are to love. He reminds us that we are able to love because God has loved us first (I John 4:19) first. As Paul says at some point we have all been enemies of God (Rom 5:10) but God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to die for us (John 3:16-18) so that he could look beyond our sin and love us unconditionally.
Love is a powerful weapon against our true and fiercest enemy, the devil, and loving our enemies will open us up to new levels of love, new levels of blessing, liberate us from all hate, bitterness, and malice so we can be free to live victoriously. In the promise of God, through the power of Christ we can love those who do not love us back, those who do not care for us, even those who seek to do us harm. With the help of God, we can do what we cannot do for ourselves: love ourselves, love one another, and love our enemies. Let’s Pray,
Dear God, today we are reminded that we can do all things through Christ who strengthen us, and this includes loving those who not only do not love us back, but see themselves as our enemies. Teach us to love as Christ loved, teach us to love as you love us for what reward is there to love those who already love us, no help us to love those who do not love us in return. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen