Summary: Romans talks about how we should "treat" our enemies... but until we learn how to pray for them, we will find it nearly impossible to show love for them. Find out why.
OPEN: During the Korean war a certain military unit had hired a local boy to cook and clean for them. Being a bunch of jokesters, these guys soon took advantage of the boy’s seeming naiveté’.
· They’d smear Vaseline on the stove handles so that when he’d turn the stove on in the morning he’d get grease all over his fingers.
· They’d put little water buckets over the door so he’d get soaked when he opened the door
· They’d even nail his shoes to the floor during the night.
Day after day the young Korean took the brunt of their practical jokes without saying anything. There was no blame, no self-pity, no temper tantrums.
Finally the men felt guilty about what they were doing, so they sat down with the boy and said, “Look, we know these pranks aren’t funny for you, and we’re sorry. We’re never going to take advantage of you again.” It seemed too good to be true to the houseboy.
“No more sticky on stove?” he asked.
“No more water on door.”
“No more nail shoes to floor?”
“Nope, never again.”
“Okay” the boy said with a smile, “no more spit in soup.”
Apply: How many of you can think of someone that you dislike? Someone who has mistreated you or upset you in some way? Someone who you would like to spit in…
Nah. You wouldn’t want to spit in anyone’s soup would you?
But I imagine, there are some people that you’d prefer to ignore, or avoid as often as possible.
Or perhaps you find ways of talking them down when they’re not around. I mean, you wouldn’t necessarily say things that are “untrue” about them (that wouldn’t be Christian)
– but you might say things you know would hurt them
– or damage their reputation
– or lower them in the eyes of those around us
Or, perhaps you might look for ways to conduct yourself around these special “someones” in a way that you know would bother or irritate them.
They’re your enemies. I know we don’t think of them as being enemies. But, as one person sagely observed, our enemies are not necessarily those who hate us as much as they are people that we hate.
And whether we call them “enemies” or refer to them as people that we “don’t like,” we find ourselves doing things like… rejoicing when they suffer, and resenting it when they succeed.
We just don’t like them.
And, if it ever came down to the question of repairing the relationship between the two of us… THEY need to be the ones to make peace… not us.
I. Now, if we were pagans… we could get away with that
Illus: I once knew a man – a church goer – who tried to tell me that when Jesus said we should “love our neighbor as ourselves” that ONLY applied to those who were his Christian brothers and sisters. He didn’t have to love anybody else.
But that’s not true
Jesus has called us (who are Christians) to a different type of conduct- than the world is used to
Jesus said: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you - Matthew 5:44
Jesus said: Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you – Luke 6:28
ILLUS: But, people OUTSIDE of Jesus Christ have always had difficulty buying into this approach to life. Nikita Khrushchev once remarked “The difference between Christianity and Communism is great. When someone strikes you on the face, you turn the other cheek.
If you strike me on the face, I’ll hit you so hard your head will fall off.”
Now, worldly people aren’t always violent when responding to people they don’t like, …
But they can still have difficulty with Jesus’ approach to dealing with others… for example:
* Confucius (some 500 years before Jesus) said: "Do not unto others what you would not wish done to yourself."
* An apocryphal book called Tobit: "Do not do to anyone what you yourself hate."
* And the famous Rabbi Hillel: "What is hateful to you, do not do to anyone else. This is the whole law; all the rest is only commentary"
APPLY: That SOUNDS alot like the “Golden Rule” doesn’t it?
But, it’s not.
Jesus “DO unto others…” – Luke 6:31
The philosophy of non-Christians is often “DO NOT unto others what you would not wish done to yourself."
That – in a nut shell – is the “normal” way for non-Christians to respond to others around them
Jesus tells us we need to respond “actively” (not passively) to others. And that is especially true of how we should to respond to those we don’t like.
The world – at its best – says: Avoid or ignore or at least “tolerate” your enemies