Have you ever described a relationship in your life using the phrase “It’s a love-hate relationship”? Maybe you’ve jokingly used that phrase in reference to those people in your life who oftentimes just rub you the wrong way or get under your skin. You love them, but sometimes you might hate to be around them. Then there are those people in our lives who we just love to hate. No, you may never blatantly come out and say: “I hate (person’s name)” or refer to them as an enemy, but your actions and attitude towards them says it all.
The Bible has a lot to say about how Christians are to treat their enemies. God doesn’t just call Christians to tolerate their enemies, but He expects Christians to love their enemies. As we study Luke 6:27-32 we will see what loving our enemies looks like and how not to be haters who are gonna hate, hate, hate them. Loving your enemy is…
Love your enemies?! Do good to those who hate you?!! Bless those who curse you?!!! Pray for those who abuse you?!!!! Say what???!!!! To most people these actions seem extremely unreasonable. In fact it goes against every fiber of our being. So why would God call His followers to do something that goes against all human reason?? Because that’s exactly what He did. Romans 5:10 tells us “while we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.” Did you catch that? The Bible called us enemies of God, but He loved us anyway. Loving our enemies does go against our human nature, and apart from the Holy Spirit’s work within us, it would be entirely impossible.
When the mean girl at school is crying because she’s had a bad day, typically all we want to do is celebrate her misery. After all, she deserves it for the way she treated you. (Can anybody relate?) The last thing you want to do is come alongside her and comfort her or pray for her. The only way we can sincerely love our enemies is by first experiencing God’s love for us. He unconditionally loves us. Even before we loved Him, He loved us. 1 John 4:10 says: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” He loved us in our sinful rebellious state and “[He] demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Loving your enemies is unreasonable when we try to do it in the flesh, but when we allow Christ to live through us it’s the supernatural thing to do. Loving our enemies can also be…
Painful & Uncomfortable
When you first read what Jesus tells His followers in verse 29, it’s a little bit of a shocker. If read in modern-day terms, it would sound something like this: If someone slaps you across the face let them smack you across the other side also, and if someone takes your coat give them the shirt off your back too. The idea behind verse 29 is when someone does you wrong or hurts you, don’t try to get even or hurt them back. Think with me for a moment about these examples that Jesus chose to use. A slap in the face hurts, and it’s insulting. When someone takes something from you, it can cause you to feel violated. And then if you were to voluntarily give them the shirt off your back, you’d be unclothed and uncomfortable adding a whole other dimension of love to the equation. What is amazing to me about what Jesus said is that He didn’t just tell His followers what to do, He showed them. He set the example. Jesus practiced what He preached. He endured the most uncomfortable and painful thing— the cross. He was beaten, bruised, mocked and ridiculed. He was betrayed, spat upon and stripped naked enduring the shame for all to see. The fact of the matter is He did it all for even those who despised and rejected Him.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a wimp when it comes to pain. I also hate feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed. I don’t really know anyone who enjoys any of those things. When we experience pain from being deeply hurt or offended by someone (whether intentionally or unintentionally) or even when someone embarrasses us or makes us feel uncomfortable, we need to remember the words of Jesus. Not only that, but we need to imitate His actions. “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). Not only can loving your enemy be uncomfortable and painful, but when you love your enemy you must also be…
As you read verse 30, notice Christ tells us two things: He tells us to give to everyone who begs from us, and He also tells us not to demand anything back—both of which require sacrifice. Loving your enemy is a sacrifice—it will cost you. It may cost you your pride. It may cost you your position. It may cost you your possessions. It cost Jesus all those things and more. He was fully God but humbled himself and became fully man (Phil. 2:6-8). He was rich and became poor (2 Cor. 8:9). He was sinless and became sin (2 Cor. 5:21). He sacrificed all of that for us—His enemies. He sacrificed His life for ours:
- Without Hesitation
- Without Limitation
- Without Expectation
Christ died for our sins. So we must also die to ourselves where our enemies are concerned. When your best friend stabs you in the back or a parent abandons you leaving your family in shambles, you have to sacrifice your pride and love them in spite of how they’ve acted towards you. Loving your enemy isn’t easy—it’s a sacrifice. But when we fully understand the sacrifice Jesus made to love us, it compels us to love and sacrifice for even our worst of enemies. Finally, loving your enemy is…
In verses 31-36, Jesus makes it very clear that it’s easy to love those who love us or to do good to those who are good to us. After all, even people who don’t know Christ do that. What is rewarding is loving your enemies. You are never more Christ-like than when you love your enemies.
John 13:34-35 says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” The entire time I’ve been studying this passage, I couldn’t help but think of Christ and His love for us. There is no better example set before us concerning loving our enemy than Jesus dying on the cross for all mankind. The next time you experience feelings of hate or apathy towards an “enemy”, remember how Christ loved His enemies—how Christ loved you. Ask Him to replace those feelings of hate or apathy with a love for that person which can only come from Him.
Heavenly Father, I praise You because You are love. Lord, I recognize that the greatest love relationship I can have is with Jesus. Please forgive me for not loving others as I should. Help me to fully experience the love You have for me so that I can in turn truly love my enemies and no longer love to hate them. Thank You for loving me even when I didn’t deserve it or love You in return.