Matthew 5:44 NIV
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
Luke 6:27-36 says….
 “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.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.
 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
The world says — rightly — “Love your friends. Be loyal to your friends. Look out for your friends.” Why? Friends will look out for you. This also goes to loving your wife or your husband. As the Apostle Paul observes, “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28). Loving your wife is a no-brainer unless you’re self-destructive. Loving your friends and your spouse is just enlightened self-interest.
But it’s altogether another thing to love an enemy, someone who has your disgrace or destruction as a goal.
But Jesus says that we are not to just force a smile when we are hated and mistreated. We are to actively try to do good towards our attackers. Agapao, aka Agape is a rare word in Koiné Greek. It was developed almost exclusively in Christian literature to refer to the kind of love that doesn’t serve itself, but extends itself for the sake of another. Agape love is really a different category of love that the world of today rarely acknowledges.
Let’s pause for a moment. Who are your enemies? I’m not asking who you hate… I’m asking who hates you, or despises you? Often they are the people close to us who have been hurt. A spouse or former spouse. A parent. A son or daughter. A co-worker at the job. An enemy of God who takes it out on you. Someone whose evil action you have exposed and is now out to get you. Who are your enemies?
Now what can you actively do to seek their good? That is the way Jesus is training his disciples to think.
How do I love my enemy? you ask with all seriousness. This isn’t a matter of just thinking nice thoughts. We need Jesus to do a heart change within us, to put the kind of heart within us toward our enemies that was in God who sent Jesus to redeem and forgive a world full of sinners. Somehow God loves the people of Israel who thumb their noses at him again and again. He doesn’t quit. They are unfaithful and are punished, but then God is at it again seeking to bless them. He doesn’t give up. He has a heart of love toward the loveless. That is what we need to love our own enemies.
So how do you do it? I don’t think we wait for emotions of love. Rather we start with actions of love, and emotions may follow later. We start doing what Jesus taught right here:
- Do good. When you find a way you can do something good for one of your worst enemies, do it. Not to shame him, but because you are trying to find it in your own evil heart to love him for Jesus’ sake.
- Bless. When you think of the person who is slandering you, and saying untrue and nasty things about you, find ways to work blessing into your thoughts. Speak a blessing out loud. When you are with friends, instead of complaining about your unjust treatment, go out of your way (actively) to speak well of your enemies. Why? To shame them? No — though it will. But to find it in your own heart to love them.
- Pray. Intercede. When you’re praying, you probably pray for your family and your pastor, and your friends and family. Why don’t you begin to pray and intercede for your enemies. Actively. Start to ask God to help them. Ask God to heal the hurts in their lives that are some of the motivators of their evil actions. Ask God to bless them and show mercy to them. Why? To shame them? No, in order to find it in your heart to love them.
Now this is by no means easy. You see, Jesus is out to create an army of disciples that look at enemies as he and his Father look at them, as people to love and care for. People to provide for. People to die for. Jesus is out to change you and me. And obeying Jesus’ commands, along with the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, will accomplish just that.
Scripture of the day: “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” ~ Luke 6:30
Pastor Peter Okereke Jr.
The Living Word Ministries Inc.
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