Revive Me, Week 8- Love Your Enemies

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.

(Matt. 5:43-48)

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.

(Luke 6:27-36)

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:

  1.  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.).
  2. Focus on one specific “love your enemy” command each day this week:
    1. Monday- Do good to those who hate you
    2. Tuesday- Bless those who curse you
    3. Wednesday- Pray for those who mistreat you
    4. Thursday- Give to everyone who asks of you
    5. Friday- Treat others the same way you want them to treat you
  3. In your personal Bible study, pay attention to how Jesus interacted with His enemies.
  4. Take a few minutes to listen to this excellent message about True Love.


You’re Killing Me

I was asked to do something thoughtful for an enemy.  Granted, the person doing the asking didn’t realize the would-be recipient is antagonistic toward my family.  What goes through your mind in a situation like that?  I’ll tell you what went through mine.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  No way!  I can’t do it.  Even if I could, it wouldn’t be sincere.  You have no idea what that person has put me through, and now I’M the one who has to be nice?  Does that seem fair?  You’re killing me.  And on and on my thoughts went.  By the time my mental rant was over, I’d done a nice job of convincing myself that the person wouldn’t welcome a thoughtful gesture from me anyway.  I patted myself on the back for having never retaliated (hello, Pride), and justified my choice to simply avoid the enemy.  What more could anyone ask?

“But I say to you who hear, LOVE your enemies, DO GOOD to those who hate you, BLESS those who curse you, and PRAY for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, OFFER the other also.  And from him who takes away your cloak, DO NOT WITHHOLD your tunic either.  GIVE to everyone who asks of you” (Luke 6:27-30).

Jesus asked for more.  I have to acknowledge that my avoid-at-all-costs plan isn’t good enough.  Okay, it’s not even good.  Avoiding doesn’t love, do good, give, or any of those other commands I decided I’d better circle in the text.  Jesus went on to say,”But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them” (v. 32).  By withholding love and goodness, I act like the world.  Still, it seems a bit much to ask.  Until I remember…

“Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him.  And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.  And [Pilate] delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.  They twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head.  They struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him.  Those who passed by blasphemed Him.  Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him” (Mark 14).

And He was completely innocent.  He never entertained an unkind thought.  He didn’t deserve such horrible treatment.  What went through His mind as He faced His antagonists, knowing He was on the cross for them?  “You’re killing Me”?  No.  Jesus demonstrated the very attitude He requires of us.  We know exactly what went through His mind.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Prayer for Today:  Humble me, Lord.  In my thoughts, attitude, and intentions, give me a heart like Your Son’s.



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