Day 26: “Love For Our Enemies” 09.06.2018
Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Some of us may remember a radio announcement that began this way: “This is a test. It is only a test. You will hear a thirty second audible signal testing the air defense system. In case of attack, you will hear instructions…this is only a test.” I think that was close to the announcement if not a verbatim. It was heard regularly during the cold war.
I think that this passage from our study might open with “This is a test. But it is not only a test!” In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ has been giving us a whole array of tests as we listen to him speak. First, he characterized us in verses 3 through 12; then, he proceeded to give us real life and real time examples of how we are to live out that saved status as his true disciples. He often did so with antithetical statements that were paradoxical. For example, “You have heard it was said, but I say to you…” Then Jesus unfolded HIS expectations of his true disciples. However, some of these were tests of the heart and heart attitudes. In this teaching, Jesus is saying we can observe our heart status, and we can also SEE WHAT’S GOING ON IN OTHER HEARTS! Here is the real test that will show us much about our hearts and allow others to see into them!
A Christian will have enemies if they live out their faith. Those enemies may resent their worldview or activities. Believe me as a preacher, I have experienced enemies. All of us can tell a story about friends or family who despise our Christian life and witness. Let’s look again at what our Lord said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”
This statement “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” is not found in the Word of God. Apparently, it was common expression in the first century. It was popular. So, Jesus addressed it and, as usual, set forth his Divine application. Notice why we are to be those who love our enemies. The entirety of the Christian life, after being saved by faith, is summed up in this statement: “That you may be sons (and daughters) of your Father in heaven.” C.S. Lewis once said that, in a sense we are to be “little Christs!” He meant that we are to be like Christ himself. Jesus is calling us to be like God the Father. God does not stop being good to those who are His enemies. What does He do?
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
He is good to those who never give Him a thought! So … the right way to look at this, if I may say so humbly, is to see every hurtful event that comes our way from other people … every one … is an opportunity to practice being like God Himself who is good to those who are not good to Him. Anyone can be decent even kind to the people they like and who “deserve” such treatment. Jesus goes on to say:
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
When people claiming to be Christians refuse to speak to anyone, they are grieving God. And I regret to say I have seen that far too often. Ignoring people. Not even acknowledging them. Acting no better than pagan unbelievers. In contrast, we are to be “perfect!” What does that mean? Here we have a word that does not mean that we are to strive to be sinless. The word in the text is “telios” which is rooted in the word for reaching a goal or a conclusion. In other words, we are to strive in our journeys to be more and more like God Himself. We will not get there completely on this side of the Kingdom, but we should see that as our destination. To treat people with grace as God himself does.
Matthew 26:47-50 (NIV) “While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus replied, ‘Friend, do what you came for.’ Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.”
“Friend” is a very uncomplicated Greek word. It means “friend.” Here is our question: if someone was coming to capture us and schedule our execution, would we call that person ‘friend?” This is a test. How do you, how do I, treat those with whom we have had breakage or tension or pain? Like friends? “This is a test…”
Blessings! Pastor Alberta