Summary: This segment focuses on how we deal with our enemies (our love for our enemies.)
Pulling Against God Part 4
This will be the final segment of this series on our pulling against God. To date we have discussed the fact that we do tend to pull against God in our efforts to go our own way, or any way that is not where God wants us to go. I’ve shared with you that to start the process of not resisting God we must learn to walk by faith and not by sight. When we walk by sight we tend to trust what we see more than what we cannot see. If we cannot “see” what God is doing then our default response is to believe that He is not doing anything and we must do something on our own. To further demonstrate examples of things we do that pull against God, I took you to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount where He discussed several areas the people of His times needed to rethink their teachings and beliefs on that also apply to us today. From His sermon we have talked about anger, adultery, divorce, swearing/giving an oath and long-suffering. Today I will conclude this series by focusing on love.
I know that most of you sitting in this room have heard many sermons on the topic of love. You have heard me preach on it and you’ve probably many others preach on it. It is no secret that out Christian’s lives are defined not only by the love which resides within us but the expression of that love to others. When we choose to express God’s love that dwells within us, we have options as to when, how and to whom that love is expressed. The options that we choose will often define the depth of our relationship with Christ. This is true of every Christian, but especially for those who stand in the pulpit. Having said that, please turn with me to Matthew 5:43-48.
I. Love Your Enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
Many of you heard the sermon I preach on love several weeks ago, but this morning I want to take a different approach. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus talks about loving our enemies – those who do not have your good at heart. The definition of enemy includes words like “hate, one who wishes to injure another.” An enemy is not someone that we often times think about doing anything for. Someone can love you today and be your enemy next week. I know it does not seem possible, but it happens all the times. Think about it, how many of you had a dear friend who is now your enemy? I have been there, and am still there. Someone who was as close to me as family had a family member die in a tragic accident. When I reached out to the family, my calls were not returned. I have become in their mind, their enemy. Being an enemy is an interesting thing. Let me share with you how I have seen the enemy relationship develop. There are two types of development as it pertains to an enemy. First there is the enemy who never liked us (and we never liked them) although we may or may not have ever really known why. Then there is the enemy that is borne out of a relationship that has gone bad. Let’s examine these two.
Enemy #1: The first enemy is one that we may not have ever had a relationship with and do not know personally. We “feel” that this person does not like us and therefore we base our “feelings” of dislike for them on our feeling that they dislike us. Can you see this developing? Imagine how this works. Neither I not my enemy know one another, but for some strange reason there is this dislike between us. Neither of us knows how or why we became enemies, but we know that we are. Each of us acts and treats the other as if we were enemies so even the most harmless of actions are interpreted as being hostile. If you have someone of this nature in your life, try doing an experiment. Try smiling and speaking to them whenever possible instead of frowning and see what happens. See how long it takes for them to start smiling back and being less hostile to you. Yesterday Willis, Stacey and I visited some people who were in the hospital. One of the individuals we prayed for was someone Willis knew from a previous job. Willis told us the story of how this lady was constantly coming against him. Well, one day she was in the hospital and Willis went by to visit and pray with her. She was surprised that one he actually visited her and two that he cared enough to pray for her. Based on Willis’ actions, her heart changed toward him and her face lit up yesterday when we walked into her hospital room.