Can you love your enemies?
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
Paul was a “chief” (a leading) sinner against God. He went as far as to murder God’s believers before he was saved.
Our Bible text says that “Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Clearly, it is telling us that Jesus came under His own decision and power at the request of the Father in heaven. He willingly, knowing the consequences, the horrifying death He would have to suffer, came and accomplished the mission to put in place what would save anyone who would receive Him as their sacrifice, their Savior, for sin. Jesus set the standard of loving your enemies at the highest level… He died for His enemies (Rom. 5:10) to save His enemies from sin and Hell to receive into Heaven (Jn. 14:1-3).
This sets a standard that He wants you and I as believers on Him to meet…love your enemies; pray for your enemies; bless your enemies.
Defending our country and defending our families and defending ourselves against premeditated harm is clearly taught in the Bible, but that is another subject to be addressed at another time.
Jesus went about in a world of enemies loving on people while rebuking sin and those determined to commit it with no consideration for Jesus. Yet Jesus always kept the door into His life open to them. He was aggressive in approaching man, woman, and child without judgment, but with love and readiness to answer their request of Him. His love for His enemies as He walked here was obvious, but He then told us in Matthew 5:43-46 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate this enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you: 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven…?”
You see, Jesus is telling us here that those who will treat their enemies as He did and instructs us to do, we will identify as belonging to the Father in Heaven as Jesus does. Real Christians forgive, period! Christ-likeness is found in our treatment of each other friend or enemy. Love your brother and sister in Christ, John the beloved writes, and you prove will identify as a heaven-bound child of God…a true believer in Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It is how we treat people on a daily basis that gives the evidence of Jesus living in us and through us.
Let me illustrate by example…there is a family in my neighborhood who has drugs, alcohol and the sinfulness that goes with it in their life. It keeps them poor and in trouble and without the normal necessities of life that keep a household and property in proper order. They abuse their money and bodies and children with this lifestyle. The little boy came to my door a couple of days ago wanting to borrow my lawnmower, but I told him that I don’t loan those things out, but at the moment I didn’t have time to do it for them. Last night I mowed my lawn and when I finished it, I went down to their house and mowed theirs. Now, it wasn’t that I wasn’t thinking that they didn’t deserve help because they are very foolish in how they spend their money, etc, but that was my old human nature talking. The Christ-nature that now lives in me was pleased and thankful to be able to go down and mow their lawn for them. What do you think that did for them in respect to at least their opinion of their fellow man and hopefully, most of all, their opinion of the life of Christ that can change a rotten sinner like me? Either way, it is this that honors God to love your neighbor not hate him.
Charles Empty is Pastor of Cove Baptist Church, Orange, TX