Saturday, February 8, 2014

Love Your Enemies, Part 2

 Hello Brethren, after hearing feedback from some of you about my last post, and personally thinking through the topic of loving one's enemies, I feel the need to possibly clarify what loving your enemies looks like. Because of the time I have today, I will have to elaborate on some things in the next post.

When most people hear the word, "love", they instantly conjure up innumerable, often unbiblical ideals of what love is. Some will say that love never judges, is never offended, never confronts sin, "embraces" everybody (i.e. compromises with regards to righteousness), and loves everybody in the same exact way. Is this true?

In my last post (Love Your Enemies), I wrote that in order to love properly, we must love like God loves. Why? Matthew 5 establishes that we are to love our enemies (and our friends) so that we may be the children of our Father, acting in the way Christ acted (Rom. 8:28-30), and Christ only does what He sees His Father doing (John 5:19). Therefore, we must love in like manner as the Father loves.

Now that is established, we must now determine how exactly God does love. For the purposes of this post, I will be focusing on how God does (and thus how Christians must) love the unsaved.

Let us turn to the words of the Lord in order to determine some specifics about loving one's enemies.

 "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:27-36)

In this passage, we see the Lord explaining what it means to "love your enemies". [Note: This also extends to all who are not Christians. How so? Well, a disciple is not greater than his Master, is he? Therefore, if they hated Christ, how much more will they hate us (Mat. 10:25)! This does not mean that they will actively attack you, but they will ultimately hate you because of your message.] 

Because of the rather self-explanatory way in which the Lord explains love here, I will make as few comments as possible. 

So, in this passage, we find that the Lord brings up certain realities about loving an enemy. Firstly, we must do good to those who hate you. The meaning of this is very basic. To those who do evil to you, or who merely hate you in their hearts, you must do good to them. This encompasses any kind of good: if your enemy is in physical need, give them what they need (Rom. 12:20); if they are in physical danger, sacrifice your own life for them (Use wisdom regarding the circumstances though, e.g. don't take the death penalty for a murderer, or pay the fine for a thief. Nevertheless, we must follow our Lord's example by sacrificing ourselves for the ungodly, Rom. 5:6-10); and preaching to them the Gospel and Truth (2 Tim. 4:1-5). Ultimately, doing good to someone is not dependent upon what they have done to you or to anyone else. If it were, then we who are now saved would have been justly damned to Hell for our utter hatred of God and all the love which He has shown to us (John 3:14-20). 

Secondly, we must bless those who curse us. For example, if someone slanders you, speak good of and to them in return.

Thirdly, pray for those who mistreat us. This is one of the hardest things to do. One can "pray to God" for your enemy without actually meaning it. However, what is called for here is true worship of God through praying to Him on their behalf (as it were). It is a prayer for His blessing, mercy, and love to be showered upon them. The greatest example of this is when Christ hung on the cross, beating, mocked, spat upon, reviled by godless men. Did He revile in return? When He was about to be executed, did He call forth legions of angels to wipe out His attackers? When the merciful, loving, compassionate, good, kind, patient, selfless Lamb of God was brought to be slaughtered, did He call upon His Father to damn them all to eternal torment? No. Instead, He begged,

"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) (Note: the proper translation of this verse says, "Jesus was saying". If I remember correctly, this probably means in the Greek that Jesus was repeatedly saying this as they went to kill Him.) 

You, dear Christian, are just as sadistic, unloving, murderous, idolatrous, hateful, wretched and depraved as those men who nailed Christ to the cross. Did Christ curse you and damn you to Hell? If not, then why are you doing the same to others?! It is the height of hypocrisy to say that Jesus has blessed us (we who were enemies of God) and then turn around and curse your enemy!

I am going to be very honest with you all (and with myself), even though this will hurt. If it is still hard for you to love those who have harmed you, hard to bless them and do good to them, you apparently have no clue about the depths of your own sickening, awful, vile depravity. If you did, you would not hate them or be angry with them since you see that what they are doing is inside yourself. Every single act of sin, be it hatred, idolatry, murder, lust, homosexuality, drug abuse, or any other sin, it is found in your own self (Titus 3:1-8). Therefore, do not hate them or be angry with them, for it is love which produces the righteousness that God requires, not anger (James 1:20).

Since time is flying by, I will let you all finish the section in your own Bible time. It is rather self-evident what these verses mean, the only issue that we will encounter is when we try to actually abide by what is found therein. However, we must abide by them, no matter how we feel.

My next post will focus on how God can hate and love the sinner (yes, hate the sinner), and whether (and how) we should judge the unsaved. Until then, may you all be blessed.