Summary: Lesson 7 in a series. This lesson focuses on how to love our enemies.
Fix Your Love
Intro. Did you ever wonder why we like super heroes so much? I mean what is it about us that wants to fly, leap tall buildings, bend steel and stop bullets? Why do we have such a fascination with being able to read peoples thoughts or turn invisible? I think it’s because we hate to be ordinary. We want to be extraordinary. We want to rise above the mediocre. Who wants to be plain old average, after all. We want to believe that there is something about us that is truly rare and great. Jesus says we can be extra ordinary. We can be different from all the other people. And he tells us how.
“You have heard that it was said, ’You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:43-48
Be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect. What madman wrote that? What an impossible goal! How in the world can I expect to be perfect like God is perfect? Where do I start? What can I do to even try and be perfect like God?
The place to start, Jesus says, is with your love. You need to love like God loves. Have you noticed this past week that the rain fell on everybody? And did you notice on Friday that it was sunny of everyone? Maybe you remember seeing some old cartoons or comic strips where one character would have his own personal rain cloud that followed him around where ever he went. That’s the way we love. We mark people. This one deserves bad treatment and this one deserves special treatment.
And what standard do we use to determine the treatment people deserve? Why whether they are good or bad people. Specifically whether they have been good or bad to us. Some people just don’t like us. Sometimes we are not too likable, but sometimes people just get a bee in their bonnet about us and won’t let it go. If we’re for it, they’re against it. If we think it’s a bad idea, they want to do it now. If we’d prefer to eat pizza, they want hamburgers. Sometimes it’s more serious than that. Sometimes these people work with us and try to make our job a miserable place for us. Maybe we can make them quit, they say. Perhaps these are people you know in the community and they are determined to ruin your reputation. Maybe they’re other students at school who decide to get you in as much trouble as possible. Whatever the case, sometimes people set out to hurt us. What should we do?
Jesus says that when you have an enemy who hates you, who spitefully uses you and even persecutes you, you should love them. Do what? Love them. And that’s the Godly love, too. It’s agape there.
But that’s not how we operate. You love your neighbor, the people you have to love. Now we might not use the word hate, and hate is a pretty strong word in the text, too. Strong’s says you can define that word as “to love less.” So let me get this straight. Jesus says, “you’ve heard that you have to love your neighbor, but you don’t have to love your enemy.” Wow. That’s getting a little closer to home now isn’t it? Jesus says, that’s not the way my people are going to be. If you want to follow Jesus, you’ve got to love everyone. Just like God does. He blesses the just and the unjust. The Godly and the sinful. The nice and the nasty. They all receive His blessings.
And that’s what Jesus tells us to do for our enemies. Bless them. What does that mean? It means you wish the best for them. Good things. Blessings. Maybe the reason they are so nasty is because something is missing in their life. I hope things get better. I know why they are so mean to me at school. His parents are going through a divorce right now. I hope that doesn’t happen and his home life gets back to normal. She failed a test and I did really well on it. I hope she can make it okay in class. Maybe she can pull her grade up on the next test. I know why he’s so mean to me at work. He’s having some real financial difficulties right now and he’s just edgy about getting this project finished. She found out just last week that her mother has cancer and it doesn’t look good.