“But I say, love your enemies” Matthew 5:44
We are really good at loving those who love us. If people are nice to us we can be nice to them. When people treat us well we find it easy to respond in kind. But often when they treat us badly we also want to respond in kind to that. When someone is a jerk to us it is hard for us to be loving to them. But Jesus says it isn’t enough just to love those who love us. He tells us that “even corrupt tax collectors” love those who love them and “even pagans” are kind to their friends. As Kingdom citizens we are to be different, set apart. Our love is to go beyond this.
We are to be known by our love, not just for those who love us, but also for those who don’t. We are not called to simply love our Christian brothers and sisters in a happy Kingdom bubble. Our love is to break through into the everyday and spread the Kingdom to where it is not yet evident. Our love should be making people feel welcome, included and wanted in the Kingdom. And we should be loving in such a way that goes beyond cultural expectations, for we do not conform but by God’s power we transform!
Love is not just a sentimental feeling. Love is practical. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is generous. Love keeps no record of wrong. And Jesus commands us not to limit love. Not to restrict who we love. Not to put a requirement that in order for us to love someone they must love us back. We are to love without an agenda. We are to love without seeking something in return. For when we do that the world will take notice. They will wonder why we are doing that. People will wonder why we are showing them unearned love. And it will have a powerful impact for the Kingdom as we get to tell them that we love because He first loved us. We did nothing to earn Christ’s love. We do not deserve it. We were enemies of God, dead in sin yet Christ showed us the ultimate act of love, coming down to earth to die on the cross in our place. That is why we love – because He first loved us.
Loving enemies isn’t easy. Especially if we have serious enemies. Love does not mean being a doormat and letting people walk over you. Love does not mean turning a blind eye to sin committed against you. Love does not mean putting up with abuse. Love does mean forgiving, but not forgetting. Love does not exclude justice when serious wrongs have been done. And if that is your circumstance know that you are not expected to simply forget about it and move on. But you should still lovingly pray for them, that they would have a life transforming encounter with God.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” Romans 12:9
- What enemies do you have that you should love?
- Does our love go beyond cultural expectations and reach the Kingdom mindset of really loving others? Why/why not?
- Does this verse apply to global enemies eg ISIS/WW2 Nazis?