Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbour, and hate your enemy “But I say to 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;” See Full passage (Matt 5:43-48)
I believe that each one of us has people in our lives that are enemies. Who are the people in your life that seek your demise, hate when you move forward in life, try to get on your last nerve, and are vindictive and outright cruel to you? I gather that some name(s) just surfaced in your mind rather quickly. These enemies play a vital role in your life of you becoming more like Christ. God sent us an example (John 13:15) in His Son, that we should be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29) and walk as Jesus walked (1John 2:6). What does any of this have to do with your enemies helping you to become more like Christ?
Jesus pointed out that we are to love, bless, do good to, and pray for our enemies. “If we want to make a difference we must be different.” Jesus continues by saying, “For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?” The essence of what Jesus is saying is that if you follow Me (Jesus) and you treat your enemies the same way the world does how can you rightly say you are a Christian?
Acts 6-7 tells the account of Stephen. He rehearsed the history of Israel to his Hellenistic compatriots that were disputing with him (6:9) showing themselves to be his enemies. Stephen “pushed the envelope” hard when he said to them, “Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him-you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.” The truth hurt! “Upon hearing these things, were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” And as these men ran upon Stephen to stone him, Stephen looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw Jesus standing NOT sitting on the right hand of God. As he is about to breathe his last breath he says, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”…and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Wow, Stephen has become so much like Christ in dealing with his enemies that his last dying words paralleled and were almost identical with Christ’s and certainly in the same Spirit of our LORD (Luke 23:34). Read the gospels and examine how Jesus responded to his enemy Judas, to the point of allowing Judas to betray him with a kiss. Wow! Even as Christ was being verbally and physically abused He still died for sinners.
Your response to your enemies speaks volumes of how Christ-like you are. How do you treat the Judas’ in your life? Is it like our Master, or like our previous father, the devil? If you don’t treat your enemies any different than the world does, then you are acting like your enemies. Ouch! When dealing with your enemies, show them Christ’s love, share the gospel with them. When they curse you, bless them. When they show you hatred, purposefully be and do good unto them. At the time they persecute you and despitefully use you, pray for them. Proverbs says “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you”. This is “godly revenge!”
Oh Lord, may we bless, pray for and show kindness and love to those who are our enemies and those who are yours, in response to their treatment toward us .
Blessings Pastor Phil