Love Your Enemies

“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.” (Matthew 5:44–45, NASB95)

Retaliation is the law of the world and seems like a fair one, but it is not a godly one. The moral code is to love those who love you and hurt those who hurt you. Retaliation is an act of revenge and means “to pay back in kind.” Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Revenge, lust, ambition, pride and self-will are too often exalted as gods of man’s idolatry. While holiness, peace, contentment and humility are viewed as unworthy of serious thought.” The problem with revenge is that revenge doesn’t stop because in revenge the offended and the offender never get even. This usually plays out like this; you hurt me, so I hurt you back, so now we are even. The offender then becomes offended and, in turn, seeks retaliation. That is why battles don’t end until someone is dead or incapacitated. Revenge destroys people and society.

Love, on the other hand, hinders retaliation and reveals God’s grace. Loving your enemies and praying for your persecutors reflect the heart of God in a world full of hatred and revenge. Christian love is demonstrated as an act of volition, not internalized as an emotion. Just as God chose to love us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:10), so we also are to love others and bless them. As sons of God, we have been given the capacity to love our enemies from the depths of love that God demonstrated towards us.

It is easy to love the loveable but hard to love those who have hurt you. That is why loving your enemies is a mark of spiritual maturity. It proves that you are a child of God. Loving your enemies also reveals your sanctification as you are being formed into the image of Christ. Just as Jesus hung on the cross and prayed for those driving the nails into His hands, “Father forgive them they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24) Love creates a climate of blessing and community instead of pain and suffering. How you love is a testimony of the work of God in your life. Consider the words of the apostle John, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:14, NASB95)

Saint Augustine said, “Love your enemies in such a way that you would desire to make them your brothers.”
Pastor Cary

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