“But I say unto you, Love your enemy…” (Matthew 5:44 A)
In dealing with our enemies or with difficult persons, or with people in general we are expected by The Lord Jesus to exercise the faith He has sent us. The measure of faith and grace needed will be there when you need it, simply request it. Acknowledge your need of His provisions and from His riches He will grant it.
As we look at this directive found in the Sermon from the mount we notice many things. First He say’s, “But I say unto you…” He is putting His Words, not above the Law, at variance and above the words spoken down through the ages as rabbis and scribes would misinterpret the Law. It is written in the Law that one should love one’s neighbor. The priests, scribes, and rabbis would then teach that one should love a neighbor, which consists of friends and family, but then hate one’s enemies for they are not among your friends and family. This is not the Law that God set forth. It is the Law in the hands of depraved sinners.
Christ therefore exalts the Law by giving it’s proper meaning and He also places Himself above the religious leaders of the past and present for these false teachings were still in play.
After taking His exalted place and position He tells His hearers and now His readers to “Love your enemies…” When a person hears these Words their automatic response is, “What? How?” To love one’s family and friends is natural may not always be easy but it is natural. My mother used to tell me that she loved me but did not like me. That is true in many families as it is true in the church. We may not like each other all the time but we do love each other as that love is the tie that binds. But to love an enemy that seems unnatural. That goes against our nature. That is true it does go against our nature because our nature is depraved.
But before one discounts one’s ability to love the enemy let us study this teaching. We must remember that we are new creatures in Christ; so that which would have been impossible before is now possible as all things are possible with God for He is the God of the impossible.
Let us next realize that Christ is not speaking of the emotional love or the feeling of love but of the love that provides and the love that desires God’s best for them. Let us look at the rest of Christ directive in this verse. “[B]less them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you… This is what He means by loving one’s enemies. If someone curses you then you bless them. If someone says hateful things about you simply respond, “I’m sorry you feel that way, God Bless you.” and go on your way. For those that hate you and oppose you Christ would have you do good unto them if and/or when given opportunity. When others look upon you as “less than” or persecute you for the faith simply pray for them.
Let us also differentiate between public enemies and private enemies. David in the Psalms states his hatred for those that hate God. These are public enemies. We will put this into prospective. Imagine a parade is going down your street and this parade is celebrating something that you oppose. You would have every right to prayerfully protest this parade. As you are prayerfully protesting this parade you notice a person fall down as badly hurt themselves…what do you do with this enemy? What would Christ have you to do? You would, of course, seek a way to help them and to provide for their needs and you would be praying the whole time. See…you already love your enemies.
What of private enemies? the same holds true love them as they give you opportunity.
If you notice in our text we have opposites set at variance, Blessing vs. cursing, Good deed vs. hate, Prayer vs. persecution and despiteful usage. This is again another reminder that we are different from our enemies.