Friday, June 27, 2014

The Truth About Love: Love Your Enemies

"You have heard that is was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" -Matthew 5:43-44 I am sure we have heard Matthew 5:43-44 quoted many, many, many many many many many times in our lives. That's because it's important. We can also see in John 13:21-23 that Jesus loved His betrayer. The Bible says, "After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in His spirit, and testified, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.' One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the table at Jesus' side." Now, this doesn't say which disciple was at Jesus' side, but clearly Jesus loved all of His disciples. It's obvious here that no matter what, Jesus loved His followers. This passage later goes on to say that Judas was going to betray Jesus. Now, if you think you have it bad, imagine leaving your throne in heaven to come down to earth to save those who hate you, and then one of your closest friends ends up selling you out to people who want to brutally torture you to death for several hours, sometimes even a crucifixion would last days, all for a little bit of money. And yet Jesus still loved him. Now that we have an example of someone loving their enemies, I am going to tell you why it is important to love your enemies. You see, people are people. Maybe we have things against them, and maybe they have something against us, but when you think about the big picture of things, we're all just people who each sees a different side of the world than what everyone else sees. When Judgement Day comes, and we are on trial for our sins, do you think that God is going to care about other people? Judgement Day is about you and what you have done. It doesn't matter what anyone else does, but about how you react to those things. In James 2:8-9 it says, "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors." Now, we could stop here and say that this means we have to love everyone equally. However, if we continue reading, in verse 10 it says, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for it all." Based on the context, we can see that this means that we can't just love some people and hate others. We can't just pick and choose who we love, we have to love everyone. Not just some. Lastly, I am going to tell you not only that you should love your enemies, but how to love your enemies. It's easy to say, "Love your enemies" but how is this done? How do we love someone who we just absolutely cannot stand? Well, look over in Ephesians 4:29 the Bible says, "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." If we only talk bad to and about other people, then this will not only have a negative impact on that person, but it will also teach our minds that it's okay to dislike a certain person. If you continue on to verses 31-32 it says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." This verse may not be talking about hate specifically, but once we do what the Bible says, we will be so full of love that there will be no room for hate left. Once we learn to do these things, loving our enemies will become easier and easier as the days go by. It's very important to not only love your neighbor, but to love your enemies as well. I would like to encourage you all to move on past the rough things that happen in life, and to always look to God, who always has the answers.