Summary: In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus tells us plainly to love our enemies, to do good to them, to pray for them, to bless them. If we do this we show the world what Christ showed us. that while we deserve damnation Christ showed us love and compassion.
Loving our Enemies
Introduction: This week during the Republican National Convention a lot was made of the fact that Senator Ted Cruz from Texas did not endorse the Republican nominee Donald Trump, even after promising to do so earlier in the primary. During his speech at the convention he simply told the crowd to vote their conscious, and He was promptly booed off the stage. Later in his home state he said to the Texas delegates that his pledge to endorse Trump was abrogated, saying: “The day that was abrogated was the day this became personal. I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father. And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi, that I'm gonna nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say, "Thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father."
I know first hand what it is like to be slandered, maligned, impugned, lied about, and hated. When we took our first church, there was an ambitious young man who had a history of causing problems in the church. In fact, one of my relatives who is a pastor had difficulties with him in his church. But what made the situation worse is that this young man had developed quite a following within the church before we had arrived and was led to believe by the aging pastor that he would take over the church and become the new pastor once he retired.
The presbyter sent us to this church to fill in until a new pastor was appointed. We applied for the position and was elected in. But shortly afterward, this young man began to cause all kinds of problems, saying things that were inappropriate, doing things that were inappropriate, and headed up a coup of sorts, to slander me and my family. Eventually he left with a third of the church with him. Far from being dismayed, I was relieved. But him leaving gracefully and peacefully wasn’t in the cards because we soon found out that an effort was being made to recruit those who remained in the church to leave it. Not only that, but we were hearing that lies were being pushed throughout the community. I felt betrayed not only by this man who should have been a friend and an ally but I felt betrayed by those who would believe such blatantly false things about someone they didn’t even know.
The problem was beyond me, so I did the only thing I knew to do and took it to God. By the grace of God things got better. But feelings of anger, resentment, hatred, and bitterness didn’t leave so easily.
Transition: It’s a hard thing to forgive those who hurt you. Simply letting it go is easier said than done, and yet, Jesus doesn’t flinch in telling us to love our enemies, bless our enemies, and pray for our enemies in the sixth chapter of Luke.
Love your enemies
“But I tell you who hear me; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” v. 27
Is there anything more difficult than to love our enemies? I don’t think so. The truth is that it is impossible to love your enemies, in the flesh. Just like the rich young ruler who was faced with a decision to choose between his fleshly desires and his God, he desired to serve both and was sad that he had to choose, but if one had to be given up, then it would be his God. But shortly showing his disciples how impossible it is for the flesh to carry us to heaven. Jesus said what is impossible with men, that is what is impossible to achieve by the flesh, is not impossible to God. Just as he can change the heart of the rich, he can change the heart of bitterness, if we desire it to be changed.
But when we find satisfaction in hating our enemies and we grow to enjoy that hatred, the less likely we are to desire our heart to love our enemies. Just like it is impossible for light and darkness to exist together, it is impossible to love those we hate. What can we do then?
The only way to love our enemies is to forgive them. Once we forgive, we can love anyone.
Ill. In his book. Lee: The Last Years, Charles Bracelen Flood reports that after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it." It is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life.