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Matthew 5:43-47

Love Your Enemies!

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

There was a murder trial in progress in Charlotte, N. C. at the time of this writing. The defendant was a well known professional football player, a star receiver. The charges against him allege that he hired a group of men to murder his pregnant girlfriend. He allegedly planned the murder to the last detail and then blocked the path of her car so the others could drive alongside and shoot her. The reason?__to avoid paying child support.

Our society has a problem with love. Erotic love is all we seem to understand, and it seems that anyone, who in the least bit inconveniences us, is dispensable. How, then, can we say as Jesus did, "Love your enemies."? We have not learned how to love those that love us.

Unlike our society, which has rejected the scriptures, the Jews twisted them and cherished their distorted results. God said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor." The Jews claimed that a neighbor was, in essence, merely a friend and that the opposite of the commandment was also true, i.e. "Thou shalt hate thine enemy."

Once again, Jesus brought clarity and truth to the subject of loving your neighbor. We are to carry that commandment to its uttermost fulfillment and love even our enemies. I simply do not know how to say this to my generation and their children, because they do not understand even the concept of love.

Jesus, however, gave us three things that we can do to love our enemies. From these, we can see that the love of which He speaks is not an emotional love. Emotions are erratic, unreliable, and difficult to control. Instead, He tells us to make a conscious and rational choice to do these three things for our enemies, no matter how we feel. Only God's grace can heal our defective emotions, so we also have an implied duty to pray for ourselves.

"Bless them that curse you." Here the word "bless" means "to speak well of, to cause to prosper, and to make happy." There can be no mistake about what Jesus said we should do to those who wish only to harm us. We are to help them be happy and to prosper.

"Do good to them that hate you," means essentially the same thing. We are to treat them with honor and respect, speaking kindly of them. Gossip and backbiting are out, as are deliberately avoiding them or snubbing them.

"Pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you." Is this what you do? And how do you pray? I know that many will pray, "Please, God, make this person more like I want him to be. Make him more like me. Make him like me so I can love him back." That is not praying for him, but for yourself.

Jesus wants us to pray for the eternal happiness of our enemies. Pray that they will find the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior. Pray for their well being and their prosperity. Ask for healing for their illnesses and pray for their families. Pray for them in earnest.

Perhaps you will need to pray for yourself first, in order that your heart be tuned to obeying Christ in these things.

The purpose for loving our enemies is to show ourselves as the children of God. Some believe this should be translated "when you might be the children of God". Either thought gets the point across. God's children act out of love. They are the peacemakers(v.9), they are the imitators of Christ. God's children live at peace with all men as much as it is possible. This is the gospel light of good works that other men should see and for which they will glorify God. The ultimate purpose of all scripture and every command given to us is the glorification of our merciful and loving God.

Finally, Jesus gives us three reasons why loving our enemies demonstrates our relationship to Him. First is that God Himself treats all men equally and will continue to do so until the judgment. How then could anyone discern whom He loves or whom He hates? Would we set ourselves up to be God and sit in the judgment without Him?

Secondly, anyone used to be able to love someone who loved them first. That may not be so today. Many "Christians" have trouble loving their brothers and sisters in Christ, but think of how it looks to the world when we love even our enemies.

Thirdly, Jesus applies the same principle to friends and acquaintances. Even the vilest people in society, the tax collectors, were courteous to their friends. Are we not to rise above their level and love our enemies? We are God's children, and great rewards await us. Let's act the part.

Before The Throne:

Everyone of us needs to be deeply concerned about our relationships with others. We need to pray for our own hearts. We need to pray for an abundance of that agape love that only comes from God, for ot to overflow to our worst enemies. Pray for your broken relationships to be restored. Be a peacemaker.

For Further Study:

** Thou. Matt 19:19; Matt 22:39-40; Lev 19:18; Mark 12:31-34; Luke 10:27-29; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:13-14; Jas 2:8; ** and hate. Exod 17:14-16; Deut 23:6; Deut 25:17; Ps 41:10; Ps 139:21-22;

(v.44) ** Exod 23:4-5; 2Kgs 6:22; 2Chr 28:9-15; Ps 7:4; Ps 35:13-14; Prov 25:21-22; Luke 6:27-28, 34-35; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60; Rom 12:14, 20-21; 1Cor 4:12-13; 1Cor 13:4-8; 1Pet 2:23; 1Pet 3:9;

** ye. Luke 6:35; John 13:35; Eph 5:1; 1John 3:9; ** for. Job 25:3; Ps 145:9; Acts 14:17;

(v.46) ** if. Matt 6:1; Luke 6:32-35; 1Pet 2:20-23; ** publicans. Matt 9:10-11; Matt 11:19; Matt 18:17; Matt 21:31-32; Luke 15:1; Luke 18:13; Luke 19:2, 7;

(v.47) ** salute. Matt 10:12; Luke 6:32; Luke 10:4-5; ** what. Matt 5:20; 1Pet 2:20;


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