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Summary: This has to be the hardest of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5.

A story in the Sunshine Magazine about a professor of psychology illustrates how difficult it is to love others. Although he had no children of his own, whenever he saw a neighbor scolding a child for some wrongdoing, he would say, "You should love your boy, not punish him." One hot summer afternoon the professor was doing some repair work on a concrete driveway leading to his garage. Tired out after several hours of work, he laid down the towel, wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and started toward the house. Just then out of the corner of his eye he saw a mischievous little boy putting his foot into the fresh cement. He rushed over, grabbed him, and was about to spank him severely when a neighbor leaned from a window and said, "Watch it, Professor! Don’t you remember? You must ’love’ the child!" At this, he yelled back furiously, "I do love him in the abstract but not in the concrete!"

I imagine that upon first reading this text, most people think something like, “Yeah, right!” I agree. This teaching more than the earlier ones confronts our very lifestyle and culture. How can you “love” those terrorists responsible for the WTC and Pentagon bombings? How can you “love” a murderer or rapist that has permanently altered your family and your life? How do you “love” a person who has swindled you out of your money or your job? It almost makes you angry to even consider it, but still, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the very Word, says we should. Now, if you’re like me, sometimes you need an explanation along with the commandment because it seems so impossible to keep. Today we will examine some very valid and even life-changing reasons that Jesus tells us to love our enemies.

I. THE TWISTED COMMANDMENT (v. 43)

A. It’s Foundation

Lev. 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear

any grudge against the children of thy people, but

thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the

LORD."

1. The teaching that calls on people to “hate

your enemy” can be found nowhere in the Bible.

2. It is a misinterpretation, coupled with an

addition, to Leviticus 19:18.

B. It’s Falsehood

We find two errors here:

1. Narrow interpretation of the word “neighbor”

as being only a Jew. In our time this would be

akin to saying that a white man’s neighbor could

only be a white man, and so forth.

2. Assumption that you can’t love and therefore

can justifiably hate anyone who is not of your

own origin. The Jewish rabbis were in effect

advocating open and deliberate racism on the

grounds of national origin.

3. Hear their own words: “A Jew sees a Gentile

fall into the sea, let him by no means lift him

out; for it is written, Thou shalt not rise up

against the blood of thy neighbor:-but this is

not thy neighbor.” Maimon. This shows that by

neighbor they understood a Jew; one who was of

the same blood and religion with themselves.

II. IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE (v. 44-48)

A. Why Should I Love My Enemies?

1. The common sense argument

a. Five times Jesus told His disciples to be of

good cheer. He also spoke about our joy being

full. Even though we often don’t act like it,

God ultimately wants us to be joyful and have a

positive outlook on life.

b. Listen close. Write this down or etch it in

your memory: It is impossible for a human

being to hate someone and still be happy. Hate

consumes us and destroys your joy.

2. The changed life argument

a. God deals with all people on even ground (v.

45). The idea of being “children of God” means

to be a reflection of your Father.

b. It’s easy to love those who love you. Even

the worst person will love someone who loves

them back (v. 46-47).

1) Jesus calls us out of a life of

mediocrity into a life exemplary (2 Cor.

5:17, 21)

2) Jesus loved those who didn’t even love

Him back. All He wants us to do is be like

Him.

If you say that you can’t do it, Jesus says you can, and thank Him because He gives us three approaches to deal with people who we don’t get along with. Now let’s look at “how” to deal with your enemies.

B. How To Handle Your Enemies (v. 44)

Listen to the words of another pastor. “Jesus is

not suggesting that believers should not have

enemies. That someone else marks me as his or her

enemy is often beyond my control. There are people

who have set themselves against me and against all

that I stand for; I am sometimes powerless to in

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