Today's Word of Encouragement

Love My Enemy?

Monday, June 22, 2020

    But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44).

     This has got to be one of the toughest commandments Jesus has given to His followers. What did Jesus mean when He said we are to ‘love’ our enemies?
     There are four Greek words translated ‘love’ in English:
     • Stergein - natural affection, like that between members of a family.
     • Philein (philos) - unimpassioned love, to like; affection or fondness. It is the love between friends, the mutual attraction of similar interests and characteristics.
     • Agapan (agape) - the highest form of love which sees something infinitely precious in its object. It is a love of esteem and of prizing for the values ascribed to the beloved.
     • Eran (eros) - passion that seeks satisfaction, sexual love. It is not a New Testament word.
     The word Jesus used in this text is agape. The love we are to show toward an enemy is one that seeks the best in the individual. Naturally this is beyond us. Spiritually it is foundational to who we are as Christians. How is this applied?
     Everyone knows from experience how difficult, if not impossible it is to love a person who curses, criticizes, or condemns us, who injures us physically, mentally, emotionally, or who willingly and openly violates all the laws of God. Such actions cause anger and indignation to well up within us. But, though we may hate the conduct, and become angry when we are affected by it, we are not to sin against the person because of it. When you are angry, don't let that anger make you sin, and don't stay angry all day. Don't give the devil a way to defeat you (Ephesians 4:26-27). Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent (Psalms 4:4).
     As Christians, we should pity the person who abuses us, speak kindly to him and of him, return good for evil, help him in his time of trouble, seek to do him good, even give him opportunity to hear and receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).
     “Father, no one wants to be taken advantage of mentally, emotionally, or physically. It stirs up all kinds of mental images of revenge that we would like to engage in, but that is sin, and that is against Your Law of Love. It is only by the power and influence of Your Holy Spirit that I am able to demonstrate Your love toward those who treat me with contempt. Temper my anger with Your love, and lead me in showing Your love toward others. Amen.”


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