Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Luke 6:27-35

          "But I'm saying to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you!  To the one who hits you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the one who takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt!  Give to everyone who asks from you, and from the one who takes away your stuff, don't demand it back! (verses 27-30)
          And just as you want people to do to you, do to them in the same way. (verse 31)
          And if you love those who love you, what grace is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them!  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what grace is that to you?  Even sinners do the same thing.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive what grace is that to you?  Even sinners lend in order that they may receive back the same! (verses 32-34)
          However, love your enemies and do good and lend, not hoping for anything back, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful!" (verse 35)

When Jesus was questioned elsewhere as to what the first and great commandment of the Law was, he replied:  “’You will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the great and first commandment.  And the second is like it.  ‘You will love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31; See also Matthew 19:19).

Jesus was quoting, of course, from the Old Testament Law.  The commandment to love the LORD was from Deuteronomy 6:4, 5.  The commandment to love one’s neighbor came from Leviticus 19:18.

We should note that in the same chapter in Leviticus that Jesus quotes, there is another commandment:  “The stranger (or alien) who resides with you shall be to you as a native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).  Both verse 18 and 34 conclude with “I am the LORD!”

And later, when a lawyer (teacher of the Law) tried to find a loophole by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus told him a story of how one about whom the lawyer held racial and religious stereotypes (a Samaritan) behaved as a neighbor, and then told the lawyer to do likewise (Luke 10:25-27).

So then, our neighbors include not only those who look, behave and worship like we do, but also aliens, and people of different races and religions.

And here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that we are to love those who hate and persecute us, and we are even to pray for them!  I don’t see how this excludes anyone.  There are no loopholes!

We will have enemies; we’re not told that we won’t.  The New Testament is filled with promises and examples of persecution and conflict.  But I don’t believe that we are to choose our enemies, nor to consider those with whom we simply disagree as our enemies.  Nor are we to pray for their demise.  We can’t prevent some people from being our enemies, but we should leave the choice to them.  And we are to love them.

And the reason given for loving indiscriminately is “You will be sons of the Most High.”  I don’t believe Jesus is speaking here of that sonship that we have through faith in Him, but rather He’s referring to a concept found throughout the Bible.  To be “the son of” someone meant to be characterized by the same traits as that person.  Paul says in Romans 4:11, 12, that Abraham was “the father” of those who believe, even though not physically related.  Jesus accuses the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:31 of being “sons of the murderers of the prophets.”  In similar fashion we show our family relation-ship to our Heavenly Father when we love and do good indiscriminately.

We often tend to read Jesus' commands rather abstractly.  We nod our heads and agree with Him without really considering what it means to love another person. 

There was a dear sweet lady in a church I pastored years ago, but she had an uncontrolled tongue; gossip and hurtful sayings were often part of her conversation.  When I finally confronted her about these things, she gave me a sad puzzled look and said, "But I just loove everybody!"  I'm afraid many of us, myself included, tend to use this as our defense or excuse. 

But Jesus doesn't just give us this command in the abstract.  He gives us specific examples of how that love is to be worked out toward even our enemies:
          Do good to them.
          Bless them.
          Pray for them.
          Don't retaliate.
          Don't withhold.
          Give expecting nothing in return. 

Can we really say that we love our enemies? 

{NOTE:  Most of the above thoughts were previously posted on THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.]

1 comment:

KenMullins said...

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”
― G.K. Chesterton