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Summary: Some people refuse to love their enemies because it shows they have standards, that they respect themselves, that they reject bad behavior. It makes them feel God-like. But Jesus said that being "God-like" means loving our enemies. How do we do that?

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OPENING:

There once were 2 cats from Kilkenny

Each thought there was one cat too many

They fought and they spit,

They clawed and they bit.

Till instead of two cats … there weren't any.

APPLY: Hatred is an interesting topic.

As Christians, we are taught that hatred is not a good thing. We are NOT to hate.

But in the days of Jesus one of the common sayings of the day was “Hate those who hate you.”

In fact, they could point to what seemed to be a Biblical foundation to that concept:

Ps 139:21-22 says “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.”

In addition… there seems to be some logical reasons to hate others.

ILLUS: In the April 2010 edition of Readers Digest, a man named Bob Brody wrote this:

“I've discovered that nothing feels quite as satisfying as a grudge well nursed. I had a boss who took a dislike to me from my first day on the job, even though she'd hired me. There were no complaints about my performance, but I later learned she'd lied to co-workers about me. Without explana¬tion, she laid me off after only ten weeks, just before Thanksgiving. I had a family to support.

Was I to forgive her? Should I now? Give me one good reason.

My grudge against her, balanced out that injustice, somehow righted the universe.

It has kept me warm on many a cold night.

A long-standing grudge suggests that we hold certain standards, that we respect ourselves enough to reject bad behavior. Failure to for¬give can be just as righteous, just as honorable, as forgiveness itself.”

So, there are people who feel justified in hating their enemies/ in refusing to forgive because:

• It shows they have “standards”

• It shows they respect themselves

• It shows they refuse to accept “bad behavior”

They believe that hating their enemies makes them righteous, honorable.

Even Godlike.

And that was the mindset of the religious community in the days of Jesus.

Love your neighbors and hate your enemies (they taught) and you’ll be like God.

Then along comes Jesus and He says – “Wait A Minute… that’s not true.”

Jesus said: “I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44

But that doesn’t make any sense.

Why would I want to love my enemies… they’re my enemies for a reason.

They’ve hurt me, lied about me, betrayed me.

If I could love them… they wouldn’t be my enemies now would they???

But Jesus says: love your enemies.

(PAUSE) Now, why would I want to do that?

Well, someone listed 3 reasons why we should love our enemies:

1. It’s cheaper than getting a lawyer.

2. It decreases the likelihood you’ll end up being a guest on a Jerry Springer show.

3. BUT – most importantly - Jesus said so.

Jesus said I should love my enemies.

It doesn’t have to make sense.

All I have to know is that this is what He wants.

(PAUSE) You see, I need to understand that God’s ways and God’s thoughts aren’t like mine:

“my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

God doesn’t think like we think… and His ways aren’t like our ways

And that is especially true when it comes to loving my enemies.

Loving our enemies has always been God’s will for us. Even back in the Old Testament God taught that. In Exodus 23:4-5 God told His people…

"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 this command from Proverbs was repeated in Romans 12:20 telling us Christians that God had not changed His mind.

God has always wanted His people to love their enemies.

But why?

Well, there are three reasons I can think of.

The 1st reason is this:

I should love my enemies because it’s in my own best interest to do so.

In verse 46, Jesus says “If you love those who love you, what REWARD will you get? Matthew 5:46

In Luke 6:35 Jesus preaches essentially the same sermon, but there He says:

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Talk about it...

Danny Brightwell

commented on May 27, 2015

Great lesson. I always enjoy reading your sermons. Thank you so much for sharing.

James Bonser

commented on Apr 9, 2016

Thank you very much for sharing this message. I was blessed very much as I read it especially the illustration of the Sunday School teacher with the dartboard object lesson.

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