Revive Me, Week 8– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord
Love Your Enemies
Our nation has enemies, “Christendom” has enemies, and the Lord’s church has enemies. Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” and that sounds so very personal. It’s easier to claim to love my enemies if I can’t really put a face to them. But what about the folks who seem to go out of their way to be rude to me? What about the ones who just don’t like me? What about the ones I would rather avoid? And what about the ones who have been vicious to someone I love?
One of my sons deals with an “enemy” on an almost daily basis. Every time he goes to work, there’s a man who antagonizes him for his faith. He insulting, sarcastic, and gets in my son’s face. I’ve imagined various scenarios where I get to give that bully a piece of my mind. Oh yes, it’s harder to love someone with a face, someone who is going after one of my own.
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; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is thatto you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
I think I’m doing well enough when I just don’t retaliate, and I’m real proud of myself when I muster up a sincere smile for an enemy. But “even sinners do the same.” Jesus calls for more than cool kindness. Starting with my heart, I must practice genuine love. Jesus not only commands it, He demonstrated it. He loved me when I was unlovable (Eph. 2:4,5). Do my enemies know I love them?
Suggestions for the week:
- If you like to mark in your Bible, turn to Matt. 5:43ff and underline “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you.” In Luke 6:27ff, circle “love your enemies” and then underline all the ways to fulfill that command (“do good,” “bless,” “pray,” etc.).
- Focus on one specific “love your enemy” command each day this week:
- Monday- Do good to those who hate you
- Tuesday- Bless those who curse you
- Wednesday- Pray for those who mistreat you
- Thursday- Give to everyone who asks of you
- Friday- Treat others the same way you want them to treat you
- In your personal Bible study, pay attention to how Jesus interacted with His enemies.
- Take a few minutes to listen to this excellent message about True Love.