Summary: Focusing on Loving your Enemies
Loving the Lord, Part 1 (Loving your Enemies)
For some of us, the title of this message could be “Mission Impossible”.
Ask yourself tonight -- How can we love our enemies? How can we look at people who have done us wrong and honestly look at them with a heart of love?
It is not easy to love and to overlook sin, but Jesus does this daily for us.
Therefore, let’s examine tonight the beginning of 4 or 5 messages (which will include Sunday mornings) on the principle of love – and perhaps gain a better understanding of why this principle is so important to the believer.
Read Matthew 5:43-48
In this paragraph we have read, Jesus tells us exactly how. Tonight, let’s start with these few sentences and really take a look at how this love is important.
As we study tonight, I want to challenge you to go beneath the surface. Look beyond the head knowledge you may have and let’s get into our hearts – I ask you tonight, “What is your heart’s condition?”
Look deeper into your own life and ask yourself one question:
“Could I really learn to love my enemies?”
Point 1 – The Reminder (v43)
Jesus began by referring His listeners back to the Old Testament law and to what the rabbis taught.
He was speaking to a crowd of people (including His disciples), and saying to them very specifically that they have heard – which means they are familiar with the saying.
Even today, from pulpits all over America we hear the same teaching – the same reminder to love one anther, but I challenge you with this:
Do we really recognize the importance of loving one another?
Think to yourself of someone who just aggravates you to no end – do you love them?
If they were on fire in front of you, would you put them out? How about if it came to saving them from the fires of eternal damnation – would you tell them how they could be saved?
This is the love Jesus is exemplifying here – and he is reminding us to love one another, so that our love for them MIGHT make them into sons of the same God we worship.
If this is not an exemplified teaching of love, I have no idea what is.
Point 2 – The Requirement (v44a)
“But I say to you, love your enemies ...”
This is another one of those very hard practices, but we see this practiced in the lives of several very important members of the New Testament.
Go to Acts 7
Stephen was a godly man, a man full of the Spirit and willing to testify to the ends of the Earth about the love of God.
In his testifying, He was caught, arrested, and tried before the Sanhedrin in what many would call a show trial.
Let’s look at how he handled his own execution.
Read Acts 7:51-59
We are required to love, no matter the status or situation.
Point 3 – The Responsibility (v44b)
We have a responsibility as believers to love – regardless of the circumstances.
We are called, discipled, and delivered to do three things as believers:
1. Bless those who curse you
When someone comes upon you to curse you, pour a blessing on them!
Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Expound)
2. Do well to those who hate you
Be a blessing in someone’s life, be an encouragement no matter how someone else might feel about you.
It has been said that if you love, you might change someone’s heart. Now, if your life exemplified love – couldn’t you change someone else’s life?
3. Pray for those who spitefully use you
Quoted from a ministry site: “These words are difficult for us to comprehend, because such a situation - to love one’s enemies - seems unnatural to us. But it (means to be) precisely in love (with) one’s enemies, in the payment of good in return for malice - that we discover in ourselves the true image of God.” - John Mark Ministries
Point 4 – The Example (v46)
Look at the example in Verse 46 – if you read it too fast you might just miss it.
The tax collectors do not love, and look at what they receive.
The pagans only relate to one another, and look what they have.
Do we wish to be like them, or to live like Christ?
We are called to be more than that. To reach out past what we know and past what we think is “our kind”. As I read this I hear the Spirit saying that “we do not have a kind” ... “we simply belong to God’s kind”.