Love Our Enemies?

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Jesus said:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

WOW.
The call to love goes beyond our neighbor.
It goes beyond ourselves.
It goes to our enemies.

And who is our example? God. “Your Father in heaven.” He doesn’t just give grace and love to the good or the righteous, but to the evil and the unrighteous, as well.

How successful are we at loving a tight-lipped, humorless person who not only takes himself too seriously but misses all the sparkle of our great wit? What about the touchy soul around whose personality we must tread softly? The self-righteous one who has yet to admit his first mistake? Are we to love the person who wrongs us? Who cheats us? Who connives to hurt us? Are we to love the neighbor whose life seems motivated by thinking up new ways to torment us? Are we to love the neurotic relative who keeps track of every activity and interprets it according to his or her warped mind? Are we to love the unfaithful friend or husband or wife or child? Are we to love the liar? The gossip? The Communist Politician?…  ~Eugenia Price, Make Love Your Aim

Yes. We are.
We are to love as Christ loved us.
While we were yet sinners, He died for us.

We are to love sacrificially.
Giving good gifts to our enemies.
Heaping burning coals on their heads.

What???

Some people interpret this to mean our kindnesses toward our enemies will feel like burning coals on their heads, searing the conscience. But I’ve also heard another interpretation which seems plausible. Heaping burning coals on someone’s head is to give them a blessing. In the east on cold mornings if one had a fire burning and another did not, you could go to your neighbor’s home, balancing pottery on your head, and ask for burning coals from their fire. It seems consistent with the idea of loving our enemies. Even if you had something against your neighbor, would you refuse him the coals to keep his fire burning, to be able to warm his home or cook his meal?

Jesus continually called us to love and act beyond the requirements of The Law.
Living in light of the New Covenant is to live the way Jesus did.
Will you die for your enemies?

Or how ’bout just being kind to those who bug you?
Wow…what a concept.

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9 responses »

  1. Michelle, you’ve done beautifully in your very clear explanation of Rom. 12:21 (at least that’s what I think it is, related to overcoming evil with good, and not the opposite, and the entire “heaping coals…”-thing). That is TOTALLY on-target! THANKS for making it SO plain, and SO easy-to-“get”! This is how Jesus Himself taught when He was here “in person” — what He had to say was SO unmistakably “right there” that… no wonder the religious “leaders” (a-hem! “the rule-keepers”;-)) were furious with His straightforwardness. The next-best thing to “listening in” on their conversations is to just, well, read the Gospels! And… (you already know this and DO it, too, I can tell)… He spoke with “grace and truth”. Not an either-or thing. But with both of those qualities.

    My childhood church experiences were filled with truth. And lots of it. But grace? Hellooo! Come again?! I think we most “mirror” Him in our relationships (or our blogging, in this case, which actually IS a form of “relationship”, though non-bloggers would definitely hesitate to admit it) when we also “do” grace & truth. Do I always manage to do this? No. (Though I regret the times I have not.) And YES! This is my goal — & (trust me on this!) — there are some occasions that are more challenging than others!

    THANKS for your welcome, Michelle! I’m looking forward to reading more! Like fresh, cool water in the desert! May this same JESUS keep on pouring into you, that more and more of Him may “splash out” of you — especially through your pen (well, or perhaps I should say “through your computer keyboard”)! — a graced-one!

    p.s. What’s the secret to getting your “smiley” icons actually moving? That’s cool! Are you putting code in as you’re writing?

  2. Thank you, Grace Reigns. Your words are so encouraging to me. I’ve experienced my share of getting it wrong, and unfortunately, I know I’ll get it wrong again. But it is so good to know where to go to get it right. He never fails to forgive, restore, renew and carry us along in this sanctifying work. We serve an amazing God, you know?

    PS Here are the codes for emoticons Enjoy! 🙂

  3. He IS an amazing God… yes, yes, and…YES! And — it is exciting to hear (okay, I’ll say “read”, though I’m a very “aural” person!) what He’s been “up to” in your life! (<— because of catching so much more through my ears, I am continually fascinated with the many, many places in Scripture where the phrase "Listen!", or "Listen carefully!" is used — all OVER the place! As Jesus said several times, and rather pointedly, to His audiences — thereby implying that though they very well may have been "hearing", they may not have been catching the full intent of His meaning (may I say here, "they just plain weren't catchin' His 'drift'"?): "he/she that has ears to hear, let him/her hear!" So THANKS for being one of God's messengers to help us "hear" Him more clearly! Sweet!

  4. The world would be a much better place if more people, and nations, followed Jesus’ guidance to love to their neighbors, to give gifts to their enemies.

    The Christ Follower is called to do this by God. It should not be that much of a challenge to live with love towards your neighbors. The far more difficult task is to show love towards those who work against you. To repay hate with love. This is also good advice for non-believers as well.

    Christians should not expect to be rewarded for loving their enemies while they live in this world, their reward comes in the next one, Heaven.

    The reward for the non-believer is that while we may not see any reward during our lifetime, we will be making a better world for future generations.

    There are good examples of how this guidance does work to make our world better.

    All of the wars that devastated Europe for over a 1,000 years ended with the victors punishing the vanquished. This just lead more cycles of war. At the end of World War II, the US, through the Marshall Plan, gave aid to Germany, and Japan. We helped our enemies rebuild their economies. The result was to turn our enemies into allies.

    Unfortunately when we look at the conflicts of today we find that this lesson has not been learned.

    The way Jesus lead his life makes him a good role model for Atheist as well as Christians. I really should get one of those “Atheist For Jesus” t-shirts. 🙂

  5. One of my favorite verses, Grace, that corresponds with your comment and my post:

    Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. ~James 1:19-20

    Hey, Ed. Wow, if we really would listen to Jesus’ words, maybe we could have heaven on earth. But, I understand that the end of The Book, and Jesus, says it won’t work out that way. I’m putting my hope in His Kingdom, not this one.

    I think you should buy that shirt! 😀

  6. Actually, I was thinking the sermon on the mount when I read this, but that hard stuff about loving unlovable people is all over the place. It’s good that we have Jesus to do this in us, because I’m not capable of it. Thanks for a great post. 🙂

    Love, Cindy

  7. Good Morning, Cindy. It is from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:43-48. And amen, I could NOT do this on my own. Thankfully, His Spirit is strong when we are weak.

    Thank you for stopping by to say so…Blessings!

  8. My layers of wrong thinking keep getting peeled … one thin onion skin at a time. SO many layers to go on this, though.

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