“But I say unto you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, BLESS THEM that curse you, DO GOOD TO THEM that hate you, and PRAY FOR THEM that despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Can you think of a more relevant, a more necessary, and a more difficult passage of scripture for us to obey today than the words of Jesus, to love our enemies? At times, we struggle loving our friends, let alone our enemies!
Jesus said love them. Jesus said bless them. Jesus said do good to them. And Jesus said pray for them. Love, do good, bless, and pray for our enemies. Really Jesus? We are struggling to like them, let alone to love them.
The distinguishing mark of the early New Testament church was not so much how they dressed. It wasn’t necessarily the songs that they sang. To be honest with you, it wasn’t even the “church” they attended. While all of these are important, in fact, very important, even a casual study of the scriptures or church history will attest that these weren’t the distinguishing marks of the early believers. What was different about the early church from those who lived in their communities was first and foremost, the love they had for God, for one another, and yes, even the love they had for their enemies!
As one author noted, “When the church began, it emphasized devotion to God and a concern for others. But somehow it lost its way and the church became known for everything but love.”
O Lord, how sadly true are these words!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Can you think of anyone who you might consider to be an enemy of yours, your family, your church, or country?
If so, Jesus said to LOVE THEM!