Summary: Jesus says I have to love my enemies. But there’s a reason they’re my enemies - I don’t like them! So why should I do this?
OPEN: The military apparently understands the need to make their instructions memorable and so they occasionally resort to humor to explain the basics. For example:
Instructions printed on Rocket Launcher tells soldiers to "Aim towards the Enemy."
U.S. Marine Corps tells its recruits that when it comes to grenades: “When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is *not* our friend.”
Additional words of wisdom include:
1. If the enemy is in range, so are you.
2. The enemy invariably attacks on one of two occasions:
• When you’re ready for them.
• When you’re not ready for them.
3. Don’t draw fire from the enemy - it irritates the people around you.
4. Make it too tough for the enemy to get in and you can’t get out. (Alan Smith)
APPLY: These are some of the accumulated wisdom of the military when engaging the enemy.
If you ignore these instructions, you can get hurt, you can get killed, and you can get the people around your killed. You may think you have a better idea…but your better idea could be disastrous. So pay attention to the instructions. Every good soldier knows that instructions like these can help them deal effectively with their enemy.
Now here in Matthew 5 Jesus gives us His wisdom on how WE can deal effectively with our enemies. He says we are to:
• Love them
• Pray for them
• Greet them
In another passage, Paul quotes Proverbs and tells us that "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink." Romans 12:20
So I have to FEED my enemy if they’re hungry and I need to give my enemy something to drink if they’re thirsty.
I’m sorry – did I miss something here?
These are my enemies.
And there’s a reason they’re my enemies - I don’t like them!
They’ve hurt me. They’ve wronged me. They’ve done me dirty.
These are not people I WANT to feed / pray for/ or greet on the street.
These are people I don’t like… they are my enemies!!!
So, why on earth would I want to do something nice for these guys?
One person I read gave a number of reasons why we should:
1. It’s cheaper than getting a lawyer.
2. Decreases the likelihood of ever being a guest on the Jerry Springer show.
3. BUT – most importantly - because Jesus said so.
This is what He tells me to do.
I don’t have to like it. I just have to obey.
And one of the reasons I need to obey is because this has ALWAYS been God’s will.
It was part of the Old Testament Law. In Exodus 23:4-5 God’s people were instructed that… "If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.”
In Proverbs we’re told “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.” Proverbs 25:21-22
And of course we see the same command in the New Testament. Jesus tells us:
"… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” Luke 6:27
“love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Luke 6:35
And Paul writes: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14
And “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
So this has ALWAYS been God’s will for you and for me.
But that still brings me back to the question: Why?
Why would I want to be nice to these folks?
As I examined today’s text, I came across 4 reasons I think Jesus told us to love our enemies.
1st – it purges me of my pagan past.
I used to be a soldier for Satan. I used to wage war under his banner and fight like He does.
Satan is the accuser of the brethren… he’s the destroyer of everything God holds precious.
AND HE HATES. And he hates. And he hates.
And he teaches his followers to hate.
In Galatians Paul writes to Christians and tells them not to behave like that
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: (amongst which are) … hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions” Galatians 5:19-20
If I allow myself the luxury of hating my mortal enemies, I go back to my pagan roots.