Love Series, Part 5: Love Your Enemies
May 21, 2006
This sermon was presented before the Load, Kentucky, Church of Christ, on May 21, 2006. God is love. He pours forth blessings on good and evil, just and unjust. He expects His children to love in the same manner, with charity toward all. We must love our enemies..
Love Series, Part 5: Love Your Enemies
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to the Load, KY, church of Christ on 05-21-2006
In this series of lessons on love, we have examined the love of God for mankind, the love of Christ for us, and the love of God for Christ. Now I want us to study the love that we are to have for our enemies. Jesus told us how to love our enemies. I want to read His remarks from Luke’s record first, and then from Matthew’s.
Luke 6:20: “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21: Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22: Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
23: Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24: But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25: Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26: Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27: But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28: Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29: And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
30: Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31: And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32: For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33: And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34: And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35: But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36: Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37: Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
It reads this way in:
Matthew 5:43: “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?
48: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
It is easy to love those who love us. It is harder to love those who intend to do us harm. The inclination of most, even those professing Christianity, is to retaliate for evil that is done to us, or to those whom we love. As Jesus correctly notes, God gives certain good gifts to both the good and the evil. Our goal is to shine as lights in a world of darkness.
Matthew 5:13: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15: Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Our mission in this life is to bring the lost to Christ. That means that our lives must shine as beacons of light in the dark world of sin and ignorance of God’s will.
We studied in the last lesson that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. When Jesus was asked who our neighbor is, He replied with the story of a man in trouble. It is important to note that the man who gave assistance is a Samaritan. The Jews were of Judah—the Romans called it Judaea— which consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Samaritans were of Samaria, a city that was once capital of the ten tribes of Israel that had departed from the Lord. The Jews despised the Samaritans because of the rivalry between the two peoples in the past, and the fact that Israel first turned from God—although Judah also did the same thing shortly afterward.
Luke 10:25: “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26: He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27: And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28: And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29: But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30: And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31: And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32: And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33: But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34: And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35: And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36: Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37: And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”
Notice that the Jewish priest ignored the man. We understand that it could have been a ruse, and bandits might have been waiting in the shadows to rob, and perhaps harm, anyone who stopped to help. It did not help the situation that the man was a Samaritan, whom the Jews scorned, as I have already mentioned. Next, the Levite, who was also of the family appointed to care for the things of the temple, passed by without assisting the wounded man. Finally, the one who stopped to give care to the injured man was a Samaritan.
We can assume that the injured party was a Jew, since he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Therefore, his Jewish brethren refused to help one of their own. Yet, here is a man whom the Jews count as an enemy—a Samaritan—and he helped the Jewish man!
You might say that it is a hard thing to help one’s enemy. Many find it hard to forgive an enemy of the harm that has been done. We need only look to our Lord to find the perfect example of the attitude that Jesus was preaching.
Luke 23:33: “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
34: Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
Jesus did not curse His enemies. He practiced what He preached.
Matthew 5:44: “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.“
The martyr, Steven, followed in his Lord’s footsteps at his own cruel and undeserved death.
Acts 7:59: “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60: And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Hard? Yes! Impossible? No! That is why each of us must nurture within ourselves the kind of love that will allow us to take the same attitude that Jesus and Steven took. Love our enemies, and those who persecute us, and do evil against us. The apostle Paul also had learned this valuable lesson of love.
Romans 12:14: “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15: Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16: Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
17: Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18: If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20: Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21: Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Our goal is to live peaceably with all around us, as much as lies within us. That involves a tremendous responsibility to quell the wrath that might rise up in us when we are wronged. Remember that God takes vengeance, and He will recompense our enemies. That is His role, not ours.
The apostle Paul gave the following relevant words to Timothy.
2 Timothy 2:24: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25: In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26: And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
Our job is to offer our services in helping those in sin to recover their senses, and come to Christ. We cannot do that if we are an angry, vengeful people. James offered the following advice, which I find to be a constant reminder of how we must mature as Christians. If we are not yet able to love our enemies, perhaps this will help.
James 1:19: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
21: Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
22: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23: For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25: But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
If we are lacking in this important measure of love, perhaps we can examine our lives, like a person who looks into a mirror, to see where we fall short, and what we can do to improve our weak areas. We must learn to love our enemies. That does not mean that we condone the evil that they do, but it does mean that we want to see them repent, and come to God before their souls are lost.
Therefore, if you need to grow in Christian love toward your enemies, please give it much thought and practice the love. The next time someone does something evil to you, do something good for him or her. Let them know that you forgive them, and that you stand ready to serve them should they desire to draw closer to God.
To be Christian means to be like Christ, and Christ stood ready to forgive His enemies. Not only that, but as we studied in the lesson on Christ’s love for us, He died for His enemies as well as His friends. Evil is not overcome with more evil, but with good. With that, I say to you, “Love your enemies!”