Friday, June 8, 2018

Loving Your Enemies

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28).

Today, we think of love as a passive reaction to things we like. But in the Bible, love is an active intention. Love is something commanded, and in general it means to seek the good of someone else. However, it is the Bible that tells us what that “good” is.

There is a story about a meeting of Christian scholars and pastors. One of the men present at the meeting became upset with an elderly scholar. He began to abuse him rather nastily, implying all sorts of bad things about his character. After he had finished speaking, the elderly gentleman looked at him and calmly said, “Sir, you are slandering me.” Instantly the other man realized what he had been doing was wrong, and asked forgiveness. This is an example of a loving response because by rebuking him, the elderly gentleman was doing the other man a kindness.

When Jesus tells us to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who mistreat us, He is not asking something absurd. We are not to ask that God heap prosperity and power upon those who are wicked. Rather, we have to let the Bible show us what it means to bless the wicked.

Many of the psalms have to do with the enemies of God’s people. David prays that God would bring the wicked to ruin, and in Psalm 139 he writes, “If only you would slay the wicked, O God!… Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies” (Psalm 139:19–22).

David’s hatred does not have in it an ultimate desire for the ruination of the soul of the evildoer. Rather, David knew it was when God chastised him that he repented and was saved; and he prays the same for his enemies. In this, we see that “doing good” to our enemies does not exclude seeing to it that the wicked are punished for their crimes.

How many marriages fall apart today because people no longer “feel in love” with each other? The Bible says love is an act of the will, expressed in deeds, even when warm feelings are temporarily absent. We are commanded to love our neighbors and even our enemies. There are people today who need you to express love to them. Out of obedience to God, seek their good.