Thursday, September 3, 2015

Love, my enemies?!

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  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.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. (Luke 6:27-31)

Love your enemies. This is the quintessential command which all the rest of this portion hangs upon.  How does it look to love one’s enemies?
Ø  By doing good to those who hate you.
Ø  By blessing those who curse you.
Ø  By praying for those who spitefully use you.
Ø  By turning the other cheek.
Ø  By not withholding from him who would take, not even asking them for your goods back.
Ø  By living the golden rule.
This is the task set before us, but it is an IMPOSSIBLE task, however.  Yet it can be done! How, you say? Let me tell you how it cannot be done.  It cannot be done by ones will or might.  It cannot be done, in the flesh.  For as we read in Galatians, in the flesh is murder, adulteries, fornications, etc. (Gal 5:19-21)

Paul tells us in verse 16 of Galatians five that it is by the Spirit we are to walk and in verses 22-23 of the same chapter he describes some of the fruit of the Spirit.  You know what is the very first fruit he lists?  Love!
It is Love that is the driving force in helping us to do the impossible!

Do you love your enemies?  I am not asking this in a theoretical fashion – do you assent to say you love them, but does love for them drive your responses to them?  Does a tenderness come over you when someone who hates God, tramples over your ‘rights’? or do you let anger flare up and consume you?
Stephen in his martyrdom might well sum it up for us all, “And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)  He prayed for them even while they killed him.  And we all know one of those there, who heard this was Saul of Tarsus, soon to become the great apostle Paul!  Paul was Stephen’s enemy, and by God’s grace, due to Stephens’s evident love, Paul was converted.

May the Love of Christ compel us to love even our enemies that we tenderly care even for them – that perhaps – just as He died for us, while we were still His enemies (Rom. 5:8), the Father will open their heart to see the love showed to us to them also, for His Glory!            

Amen

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