Love Your Enemies

Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) said, “Love your enemies”. 

Are you a Pakistani? Love your enemies in India. Are you a South Korean? Love your enemies in North Korea. Are you Chinese? Love your enemies in Taiwan. Are you an Iranian? Love your enemies in Israel. Are you an American? Love your enemies in Iran.

This seems like an impossibility to many, but with Yahweh (God) all things are possible.

We perceive people as our enemies based on things they have done to us or to those we love or for words they have spoken against us. Some people even have enemies, but don’t know why they are enemies. Their ancestors have allowed hatred to fester for many years, and that hatred is passed on to their children. It will never end unless we heed the words of the Savior of the world.

Here are his words in context:

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smites you on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that takes away your cloke forbid not to take your coat also. Give to every man that asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again. And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise. 

For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? For sinners also love those that love them. And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? For sinners also do even the same. And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Luke 6:27-35 

These words do not just pertain to countries that hate each other, but to each of us individually. We all have those that we may consider enemies or those we cannot seem to get along with, or those that offend us or are like a thorn in our flesh. We harbor ill feelings towards such people because of things they have said or done that we did not like. While it is not wrong to be indignant towards the words and actions of others, we should not be indignant with the person that is problematic for us. We are to treat others with a natural love as fellow human beings. Some have expressed it this way; “Love the sinner, but hate the sin”.

One of the purposes of loving one’s enemies is so that we can pray for them. It is really hard to pray for someone you hate, but if we can separate the words and actions that led to our hatred from the person that said or did them, then we can begin to pray for them that their heart would be changed; that Yahweh would forgive them; that we would be able to live peacefully with them.

The greatest example of praying for one’s enemies is found in Luke 23:34. These are the words of Yeshua as he hung on the cross after being beaten, whipped, spit on and mocked.

Then said Yeshua, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

We are to treat our enemies with kindness and good will, doing good to them even though they may treat us terribly. Here are a few examples of how one can do good to their enemies. 

If you meet your enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the ass of him that hates you lying under his burden, and would forbear to help him, you shall surely help with him. Exodus 23:4-5 

If your enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For you shall heap coals of fire upon his head, and Yahweh shall reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22 

Messiah Yeshua was treated with great hatred. They physically and verbally abused him and eventually put him to death, but the Apostle Peter said of him;

Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judges righteously: 1 Peter 2:23 

The Apostle Paul wrote the ensuing words unto the followers of Yeshua in Rome. 

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Yahweh. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14, 17-21

Trying to get “even” with someone that has wronged you by doing something wrong to them just breeds more hatred between people. We should not repay evil for evil.

Overcoming evil with good is a very difficult thing to do. However, Yahweh, our Creator, has made a way for us to be able to do it. It starts with receiving His only-begotten Son Yeshua as our Savior.

But as many as received him (Yeshua), to them gave he power to become the sons of [Yahweh], even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of [Yahweh]. John 1:12-13

This is referring to being figuratively “born again” by receiving Messiah Yeshua as your Savior. At that point, all your sins are forgiven, and you become a new creature.

Therefore, if any man be in Messiah, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17  

We receive a new heart that is capable of loving our enemies. Our old, sinful, hard-hearted man is figuratively put to death and our new man begins to live full of love in our hearts towards Yahweh and towards men, even towards our enemies. 

Here is an example of how the heart of a disciple of Yeshua is changed after receiving Yeshua as Savior. This is the account of the stoning of Stephen.

Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon Messiah and saying, Master Yeshua, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Master, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (died). Acts 7:57-60

The Apostle Paul wrote about how a heart of love behaves.

Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. . . And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8,13

Let us not only love one another, but let us love our enemies as well as the Master Yeshua commanded us.  

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