Michael Brown on ‘Love Your Enemies’ Is a Command, Not a Suggestion

(Photo by Alabaster Co on Unsplash)

Jesus taught it. Paul reaffirmed it. And neither of them said their teaching was optional for Christians. Instead, God Himself commands us, His children, to love our enemies and to bless those who curse us.

No one said it would be easy. No one even said it would be possible, without divine help. But, without any question, the call to love our enemies is a divine command, not a human suggestion.

In the words of Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:43-48).

In the words of Paul, “Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse. … Repay no one evil for evil. Commend what is honest in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:14, 17-21).

To be sure, this is not talking about how our country’s military should respond to a foreign invader. Nor is it telling a husband and father what to do if a serial killer breaks into his home, intent on killing his wife and children.

These teachings refer to our interpersonal relationships. To our attitudes. To our responses.

Will we bless those who curse us, or will we curse them back? Will we love those who hate us, or will we hate them back? Will we overcome evil, or will we be overcome by evil?

There are certainly times for making a spirited defense of one’s position, especially for the cause of righteousness. And there are certainly times when evil must be publicly and plainly rebuked.

But you can rebuke someone while having great love for them at the same time.

You can even want justice to be done while having great love for the criminal justly sentenced for his crime.

In short, the command to love our enemies does not call on us to compromise our ethics. It calls on us to take our ethics to a higher level, hating evil to the point that we refuse to be corrupted by it.

At the recent National Prayer Breakfast, “Arthur Brooks, a Harvard professor and president of a conservative think tank, had decried a ‘crisis of contempt and polarization’ and urged his listeners to ‘love your enemies.'”

In response, President Trump remarked, “I don’t know if I agree with you,” adding, “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” And, the president continued, “Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you’ when you know that is not so.”

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SOURCE: Charisma News