LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
by Ralph Orton
Love Your Enemies
A magazine of the the GENERAL COUNCIL CHURCHES OF GOD
We are commanded to, "Love our enemies." We are not commanded to like them! As it turns out it is, sometimes, easier to love our enemies than it is to like our family and friends. That seems strange to most people. Let me explain. We begin by reading the passages where the command is recorded.
Mat 5:43-48 (NIV1984) Love for Enemies
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you:Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Luk 6:27-36 (NIV1984) Love for Enemies
27 "But I tell you who hear me:Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who
mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
There is no doubt, we must love our enemies. Jesus says so three times in these two passages. The problem is easily resolved once we understand what it means to love. We are all familiar with John 3:16:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God certainly didn't like what we were doing or how we acted towards one another or how we acted towards Him. Yet God loved us!
Love is not about how much you like someone or your sexual desires as Hollywood wants us to think. Likes and desires can be a part of loving but they are not necessary parts. Love is often used in the sense of great affection or fondness but that still misses the mark
when we are told to love our enemies.
Love, as used in these passages, has a moral component that is at the heart of the meaning. We have a moral obligation to love not only our enemies. We are required to love everyone. You may like or dislike someone based on what they do and how you feel about them. Love is different, you must love all people all the time. You don't have to approve of them but you must love them.
Let's look at an example that might help explain what is involved. But first let me mention tough love.
Tough love allows us to do things for others that they don't like or even want. Why? Because it is what is best for them. It may be difficult for us to do such things but we do those things because we love. We may even sacrifice for someone because it gives that person the chance to be a better person. Reminds me of our Lord and His sacrifice for us!
The essence of love is the desire to do what we can to help others. There are people in the world that want to kill and maim and torture and steal. What would be the very best thing for them? That's a rhetorical question: The answer is clearly for them to come to the Lord and devote themselves to Him. Can you want that for your enemies? Can you do things that might work towards such an end? If your answer is yes, then you are loving your enemy!
There is a caveat involved in loving. It is embedded in this scripture. Mat 10:16 (NIV1984)
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.Loving can be dangerous.
Again, I remind you of our Lord and His sacrifice for us. Let me conclude with a few scriptures that are important in learning to love.
Ecc 3:1-8 (NIV1984) 1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
If the time isn't right, then wait for the right time. If the time is right then don't hesitate. You can always pray because prayer can be a great tool of love. Jam 5:16 (NIV1984) The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
I Th 5:15-18 (ESV) See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I love you, God loves you even more! Love one another.
Jesus said, Jn 13:35 (NIV1984) 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."