Love Your Enemies

Matthew 5:43-48

“You have heard that it 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, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The Perverted Truth of the Twisted Pharisees (V. 43)

The Pharisees perverted the truth by omitting the word “yourself” (Lev. 19:18). They also perverted the truth by adding the phrase “hate your enemies.” This phrase is found nowhere in scripture. The religious leaders excluded the tax collector and the sinner—the common people—from their love. They only included people like themselves.

The Pure Teaching of the True Preacher (V. 44).

Jesus corrects the perverted truth of the Pharisees by stating the pure teaching of the scripture. Jesus says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

How then are we to demonstrate this love? Luke provides the more detailed version of this teaching in his account. It says, “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).

  1. We are to love them in what we do. “Do good to those who hate you.” Christ commands us to do acts of kindness to those who would likely never reciprocate.
  2. We are to love them in what we say. “Bless those who curse you,” To bless someone is to speak well of them. Christ commands us to uplift those who slander us.
  3. We are to love them in how we pray. “Pray for those who persecute you.” We see this modeled by Jesus on the cross when he prayed for those who were murdering him. Christ commands us to pray for God’s blessing upon those who would seek to destroy us.

The Purposeful Testimony of the Thankful People (Vv. 45-48)

Jesus says this should be our testimony, “so that you may be sons of the father who is in heaven.” Our purpose for living and loving this way is based on the fact that we are thankful that God saved us and loves us, even when we were unloving towards Him.

The reason for obeying Christ’s commands in this passage are:

  1. That you may be the sons of God. Not that you become HIs son or daughter, but that you are known as His son or daughter.
  2. That others might experience the difference Those who do not know Christ might see Christ in us.
  3. That you may store up eternal reward Scripture teaches that the reward for obeying the commands of God may not be found on earth, but they will be found in heaven.
  4. That you may be perfect in Christ The word that is translated “perfect” is sometimes translated as “mature” or “complete” or “genuine”.  This verse teaches us that our perfection or our completion is found only in Christ, not in ourselves.

Conclusion

Let us all obey Christ by loving our enemies. This is a counter-cultural notion even today. When we do, we put Christ on display in our lives that others may come to know Him in saving faith.

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