Posted inForthright Magazine

Love your enemies

The Jews hated the Gentiles. The Dead Sea Scrolls contained a teaching that Jews should “hate all the sons of darkness each according to his guilt in God’s vengeance.” Some might say the Jews had cause to hate the Gentiles for the number of times they were mistreated, taken into captivity and slavery.

Jesus, however, taught otherwise. Why? Because one of the oldest commandments in the ones God gave Moses said, “You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD, (Leviticus 19:18). The Son of God placed his “stamp of approval” on this command when he repeated it in Matthew 5:43-46 and in Luke 10:27.

Someone might ask, “Why should we love others who would most certainly seek our harm or even our deaths?” If we hate others (no matter who they are) we are violating God’s command. If we hate others, how can we teach them the truth of the Bible?

The mistake many people make is that they view their enemies in two ways. First, they see them as the opposition. There are some people who are in constant turmoil over those who are trying to hurt them. There are those who think someone might steal their business, who might take our husbands or wives away or even believe someone wants steal our money and possessions.

In any event, hating others is a severe personal problem. It lies deeply inside our emotions and it easily convinces us that we should protect ourselves and defeat our enemies. But, if we hate others, we can’t teach them the truth of God’s word, can we?

Jesus’ cure for hating others is two-fold. First, Jesus commanded we love our enemies (Matthew 5.43-44). The word “love” Jesus used is one that is reserved only for the highest form of love. Generally, it is the love possessed by God. God loved the world so much he gave his one and only son (John 3:16). He gave his son for every single person, didn’t he? He didn’t make any exceptions.

Then, Jesus said, “Pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). This is the key to changing minds. How can we hate and pray for those we hate at the same time?

Jesus taught that if we love only those who love us, what reward can we expect (Matthew 5:46)? So, what reward can we expect from the eternal God who commanded we must love our neighbor as ourselves? Did God create any special exemption for those that think we should be allowed to hate others?

Jesus repeated God’s commands because it was right to do so, and because the world had become consumed with hate. It still is. Christians show how this trend can be changed by loving others regardless of what they might say or do to us. Would the world be a better place if we obeyed Jesus?


 

John Henson
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