Love Your Enemies
27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to
those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for
those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the
one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away
your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to
everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your
goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to
do to you, you also do to them likewise.
32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that
to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if
you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that
to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to
those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that
to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.
35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing
in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons
of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Do Not Judge
37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and
you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down,
shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.
For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back
Reading Jesus' words this week and allowing these words to
soak into your mind is more important than anything I will say.
However, I will mention some of the thoughts and insights that
I came to as a primer. There are life changing, mood altering,
powerful, actions that this weeks reading encompasses. I must
admit that I do not fully live the words of Jesus. I am striving
to change and do my best. We all must look, learn and change.
Why are Jesus' statements in this reading so hard? They are
principles of God...the way things really work...and they go
against everything we know. Mankind is ingrained in ways different
from God's. Let's look at an example. The Code of Hammurabi
(18Th Century BC) specified, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for
a tooth". This principal existed before the Jews received the
10 Commandments. The Code of Hammurabi is simple justice, but
it is not God's justice. Jesus ends this "reciprocity". It is
not the way of God but the way of man. Reciprocity is a commonsense,
logical way to live one's life. This principal does not seek to
inflict injury except in cases where injury is deserved.
It is FAIR. The bad person suffers and the good person prospers.
Yet, Jesus tells us that reciprocity is not the behavior we should
God goes beyond justice and shows mercy and we must do the same.
It is unnatural, and goes against our "instincts". To move beyond
seeking justice and instead show mercy is an act of God's Grace
and is an instruction to the followers of Jesus Christ. It is the
way the Kingdom of God operates, which means it is totally opposite
from the ways that the majority of mankind thinks and lives!
Lets look at the reading....
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those
who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those
who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek,
offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak,
do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks
of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them
back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to
Jesus begins with the Truth..."love your enemies" and then gives
concrete examples of what He means. In the first set of examples
1) do good to those who hate you
2) bless those who curse you
3) pray for those who abuse you
These three examples are general in nature: hatred, cursing,
and abuse. These can manifest themselves in a myriad of ways.
The next three examples, Jesus gets specific:
1) If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other
2) and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold
3) give to everyone who begs from you and if anyone takes your
good, do not ask for them
These three examples are specific: striking a cheek, taking a coat,
Jesus is providing us with an array of examples so that we think
about the thousands of ways this principal of God can be applied.
The principal is simple in words, "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES". I do not
think that this means that we will always feel great about turning
our cheek to get hit again. We are called to action. Faith is an
action. We turn our cheek. We turn in faith. We are not happy
about it, but we do it out of faith. Why? We are Jesus' disciples
and we are not to allow the other person to control us and the
situation. We are to seize the principal of God and to use it
effectively. This may seem weak, to turn our cheek in the face
of hatred and violence...but we see how powerful it is when Jesus
is crucified. We are to seize the opportunity by loving...
on the cross Jesus did not curse His enemies but prayed for their
forgiveness. Love conquers ALL! Look at St. Francis of Assisi
and Dr. Martin Luther King...they end of reciprocal and the
beginning of love shown through the action of carrying on by
turning the other cheek...it is seizing the opportunity to control
the situation through love...and once again love conquers all.
"Do unto others as you would have them do to you"
We know this as the "Golden Rule". This rule is often misstated
and is usually found in a negative form. For example, Philo said
"What you hate to suffer, do not do to any other". Jesus changes
this to a proactive statement. We are to expand and go further
with this principal. Not only are we to practice behavior that
we would want done to us, but to avoid the behavior we would not
like to experience. This is a proactive statement. We act in
faith BEFORE we act, not after.
But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?
For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good
to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even
sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you
hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners
lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies,
do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward
will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.
For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful,
just as your Father also is merciful.
Jesus gives us three examples:
1) If you love those
2) If you do good to those
3) If you lend to those
Jesus instructed us earlier on how to respond to people who
treat us badly or take advantage of us. Jesus also instructs
us on how to respond to those who treat us well. Jesus wants
us to good do at all times. We receive no special rewards for
doing good. Doing good works for the sake of good is reciprocity
and is not the way of God. Keep in mind that people who are not
Christians do good for the sake of good. As followers of Jesus
we are to do good whether we receive good OR bad in return.
We do not do good and keep track of who has done us wrong and
who has treated us well. Jesus is calling for us to stop
keeping score and do good---PERIOD!
End reciprocity-- end the ways of thinking like mankind and
follow the instructions of Our Lord.
"But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing
in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children
of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as Your Father is merciful"
Jesus gives us the reason for doing good at all times no matter
what the circumstances. We are to do good, to love, and act in
mercy because of a fact. The fact is that we are the Children
of God. We are His representatives here on Earth. The Lord is
our boss and employer. Our job is to follow our job description.
Forget the insubordinate co-workers or rude customers.
We have a job to do and we do it. We are the heirs to the kingdom
of God. We are blessed with the opportunity to enter into the
presence and to enjoy the protection, love, and care of the Lord.
Our reward is great! We are the King's representatives and must
act and do the works as representatives of royalty. If your ears
and eyes have been opened to the Truth of Jesus Christ...
you have received a gift and a privilege...act like it.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn,
and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;
give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down,
shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap; for the
measure you give will be the measure you get back"
To judge is to form either a negative or positive opinion.
To condemn is to pronounce guilt. We are sometimes quick to
pronounce what we think God would pronounce. We are not God.
We assume what to be true and pass judgement or condemnation,
but God judges not us. That is His job, not ours. Who becomes
a goat or a sheep is the Lord's job and not ours. Our job is to
be His sheep and act like sheep. We as Christians can go around
and do good, pray intently, and seek Jesus...but then we pass
judgement..."Oh, he is a Catholic and full of it...or he is a
fundamentalist and thus must be off his rocker". White people
can be quick to discount a person of another race as unintelligent
or of a lower social class, and Colored races are quick to call
White people racists. These are the circular traps of this world
and are not found in the Kingdom of God. We as royal employees
of the King are not obeying the King by acting in these manners.
It is the poison of mankind. Remember this, "for the measure you
give will be the measure you get back". We are granted a good
measure for not engaging in this behavior. As followers and
representatives of Christ, we must acknowledge the reality of
evil and be followers who will stand up for what is right.
We must be able to identify what is good and what is evil and
the Lord directs us by studying His Word and by faith"ing" in Him.
We must make decisions and decisions based in Christ.
Living faithfully includes making discerning decisions as
representatives of the Kingdom of God.
We are not to allow people to set the agenda...we are not to
wait to see what the other person will do before we decide what
we will do. Nor are we to be trapped in a vicious cycle someone
else starts. We are to seize the opportunity to love. How are
we to do that when we act out of our own self will and judge
others? To judge is not to love. If you have been harmed...
showing mercy is an act of love. Will you do it? What do you
lose by not doing it? Are we are not the heirs to the Kingdom
of God? If so, what will you lose by showing mercy??
Another example: to judge a person who has or has not done us
harm as an unbeliever worthy of hell is to judge and condemn...
and a year down the road..the Lord may open their eyes and they
will become your brother or sister in Christ.
What will you say then? What would you tell the Lord if He asked
you why you acted the way you did?
The fear of God seems to have left Western civilization.
Look around. Keep in mind that the fear of God is not one of
control or negativity...but one of direction and hope. I have
a healthy fear of God that I will somehow fall back into and
repeat the unloving acts from my past which directly contributed
to my horrible state of being and He will not be there to open
my eyes and lead me to change! I fear that! I fear losing His
presence in my life that is dear to me.
I fear that I do not have enough faith and I am unworthy.
This fear is one big factor that keeps me focused on Him.
There is a lot of learning that I still have to do and a lot
of change to come.
Progress not perfection, however I seek His guidance as I progress.
In a world that judges "Christians" when they themselves are
not Christians, it is hard to love sometimes.
But love is the Truth. We are scting like sheep when we have
reached this level. Loving your enemy will never happen unless
you love God.
Dr. King reached this level and we need to reach it. We will if
we continue to walk the path of faith. We will have to rely on
it when the Lord places His Good Works in front of us and we may
be targeted by many unloving people and evil that can be staring
you straight in the eyes. May we all call upon the Lord to help
us be better stewards of His Kingdom and continue to walk at a
steady pace on the narrow path. AMEN.
God bless and peace be upon you.
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