The Hardest Command
Verses 43-44 “But I say unto you, Love you enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
These are hard words to obey. But let me say that they are a command and not an option. We accept these Words as truth because we have faith. As Christians we must listen to the entire counsel of the Word of God. We are not at liberty to pick and choose what we want to obey and what we don’t want to obey.
Loving others is the fundamental job or service of a Christian. After all as 1 John 4:8 says “He that loveth not knoweth not God for God is Love.” Note the two parts of this if you don’t Love then you don’t know God. Furthermore God is Love. God is all powerful but the Word doesn’t say He is Power. God is all wise but the Word doesn’t say He is wisdom. God is all knowing but the Word doesn’t say He is knowledge. Instead God is Love.
When Jesus was asked the greatest commandment the Bible tells us this in Mark 12:29-31 “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt Love thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt Love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
You see thou Jesus was asked for the single greatest commandment he felt compelled to give two. It is impossible to Love God and to not Love your neighbour. Here the words of 1 John 4:20 “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he Love God whom he hath not seen?”
You see we are commanded to Love everyone that comes along our way. God makes this specifically clear. Everyone fits into the category of neighbour and enemy. There are no exceptions! We are to Love people no matter how they treat us. “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you:”
If we we’re judging by worldly standards we might say this is madness. Somebody might say that we are weak and have no backbone. Somebody might say if we are attacked we must fight back. But I say that when we Love our enemies we have defeated them. When we Love and refuse to hate we are doing God’s will. There is no greater way to destroy the works of the Devil than to Love others.
But first we must understand what Loving our enemies really means.
How Do We Love Our Enemies?
Jesus is God’s only Begotten Son. H.O.P.E. --- He’s Our Perfect Example. By examining Jesus we learn the pattern for our behavior. He is the one we should try to imitate in our walk of life.
First of all Loving our enemies does not mean we water down the gospel. We must preach the entire gospel whether or not we hurt feelings or we are rejected. In John 6:53-55 Jesus makes these bold statements. “Verily, verily I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, he have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”
Jesus told his followers the truth. He didn’t back down one bit. He knew what the outcome of His Words would be before he said them. John 6:66 says “From that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him.”
We too must proclaim every bit of truth to the world. To do any less would be wrong. I’m not saying to go around to everyone and tell them they are going to hell. Jesus didn’t do this. Instead as 1 Peter 3:15 says “...be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” In a kind, gentle and meek way we should be able to tell the truth of the gospel. But we must be firm and not back down one bit.
Next Loving our enemies doesn’t mean we shouldn’t criticize others. Please read Mathew 23:13-19. Jesus calls the Pharisees “hypocrites, blind, fools, serpents, and a generation of vipers. Jesus told them the truth we should do also no matter whom it offends. Listen to the Word is Isaiah 5:20 “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” We cannot but criticize the evils of this world.
The best way to condemn the world in its evil ways is to live the good example. We speak volumes by the things that we do. Titus 2:6-8 says “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”
When we live a godly life we put together our words and actions, in doing so we will be the Salt of the Earth and a light unto the world. Just like Jesus the vast majority will reject us. They will even hate us for doing righteousness. But there will be some that will come to understand and turn and repent from their wicked ways. If we water down the gospel, if we do not condemn what is evil, if we do not teach and live the Way then we have no testimony in our lives. We are no better than the world. We must be a peculiar people who live contrary to the world.
God Is In Control
How do we respond to acts?
If somebody was gossiping against us would we gossip in return to get back?
If somebody insulted us or cursed us out would we return the insults and cursing?
If somebody punched us in the face would we strike back?
If somebody sought to take our life would we kill them first?
When we are in a situation that recalls for restraint we must hold back.
Listen closely to the scripture “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
Listen to Mathew 5:39 “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Some misunderstand this scripture in thinking that turning the other cheek is doing nothing. Turning the other cheek is bearing the blow and then offering the aggressor to strike once more. In effect one is saying you have done your worse and I will allow you to strike me once more. Regardless of what you do I will not sink to your level instead I will Love you.
This is hard teaching. But what are our alternatives. Should we meet evil with more evil? God forbid.
Understand this that turning the other cheek is not letting the person get away with evil. It may be true temporarily. But everybody is going to stand before God and give an account to what they have done? Romans 12:19 says “Dearly beloved avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath, for it is written, vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith Lord.”
You see the punishment is only put off for a period of time. God will dish out justice. Now listen to the harmony of the scriptures in Romans 12:20-21 “Therefore if thine enemy is hunger feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
We should be willing to lay it all down and give everything. Look at Stephen. Stephen preached the gospel. He told the truth and proclaimed Jesus as Lord and God. When the Jews heard it they were so angry that they took him and stoned him to death. When Stephen was being hit by rock after rock what were his final words? Acts 7:60 tells us what happened. “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord; lay not this sin to their charge.”
Now look at Jesus, a man who had done no wrong. He was arrested, mocked, beaten, flogged, spit upon, given a crown of thorns and was made to carry his cross to be crucified between two thieves. And what did Jesus say on the cross? Luke 23:34 records his last words. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
This Is A Hard Teaching
I have told you before that one day I hope to be blessed by being able to give my life to the Lord by being a martyr. But let me say I have many many things I’d like to accomplish before then. I am willing to die for the Lord but not just yet. That is the truth that is how I feel.
Let me tell you I can’t predict how I would react in a bang bang situation. What if I walked out on the street after church and a man came up and hit me? I would like to say I would turn the other cheek that is what I would like to do. But I just might not. Because when these things happen they come so suddenly sometimes we react without thinking. I’d like to do what the Lord has commanded but I am not perfect and I just might not do it. But I have this assurance from the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye area able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bare it.” You see this scripture promises me God won’t send me something that He and I can’t handle together.
Let me explain that we are in a war. It is a spiritual war. No in wars of flesh everybody knows that people will get hurt and killed. Generals of the flesh and blood send their troops out knowing that they will die. This is just a fact of war. In the same way the Lord sends out his soldiers to do battle. He knows that some will be slain. There are places where just confessing that sweet confession that Jesus is Lord will bring imprisonment and death. Why should we not be willing to lay it all down?
It all goes back to Love. It was God’s intention that man would Love God and that man would Love his fellow man. It is because this world is fallen and sin stricken that we do not see this great Love demonstrated. Could you imagine what a wonderful place this would be if we all Loved one another? Ninety nine percent of our problems would disappear. When people hate one another for any reason it is a grave, deadly and destructive sin. It leads to war, strife, oppression and evil. When a Christian takes the high road and refuses to hate and then instead Loves when by worldly wisdom they should hate it is a very powerful statement. People will take notice and wonder what is going on.
Let me conclude by reading the scripture one more time, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt Love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. 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. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Let us be perfect let us be like our Father in heaven let us love all.
Signing off for now,
John FeatherLeaf Kaniecki
Signing off for now,
John FeatherLeaf Kaniecki