Lessons Of A Lifetime

LOVING OUR ENEMIES
OR
A PERFECT REFLECTION OF JESUS
SUNDAY JUNE 9, 2019

Scripture To Consider:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor 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 [and daughters] of your Father 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 have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as Your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5.43-48

Something To Consider:
Loving one’s neighbor, friend, or family, and hating one’s enemy, is a natural outpouring of our sinful human nature. These emotions take very little effort to rise to the surface of most people. But Jesus is constantly attempting to challenge us to rise above the ordinary, to rise above the mundane, to rise above what is humanly expected or anticipated. According to Jesus, “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.”

These words spoken by Jesus create a clear picture of Holy Spirit led and biblically revealed Christianity for the entire world to see displayed by those who are called by His name. Or these words are used as an example of condemning contradiction against those who claim to follow Jesus but who when it comes to heeding these directives of Jesus, there is no revealed obedience. Either way, loving our enemies is a biblical mandate as taught by Jesus!

The bible contains many living examples of believers loving their enemies and thereby becoming a perfect reflection of Jesus. Other than Jesus’ own example of loving us as enemies and yet dying for us, there is no greater biblical example or any clearer New Testament biblical portrait than that of Stephen, which is recorded for our benefit in Acts chapter 7.

As Stephen was powerfully preaching the history of the nation of Israel and God’s time after time deliverance of Israel and Israel’s repeated rejection of God, the Jewish religious leaders cast Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death. And as Stephen approached death he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them [those ponding Stephen to death with stones], do not charge them with this sin. And when Stephen has said this, he fell asleep [died].”

Something Else To Consider:
As sons and daughters of God our heavenly Father, we are commanded to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who spitefully mistreat and persecute us because we believe in Jesus Christ. Our understanding that all things, including the undeserved hurtful conduct of others against us and against Christianity, is working together for good to those who are called by God and according to God.

Our believing and understanding this biblical principle of all things working for good to the believer, gives us a reason to more fervently pray for those who treat us spitefully and persecute us for Christ’s sake. But, I do not or will not claim this biblical mindset to be easily obtained. I will admit as did Jesus that our flesh is weak but the Spirit of God within us is indeed more than willing to supply us enough of His grace that is sufficient for the trial.

Something More To Consider:
It is extremely critical for Christian leaders and leaders in training to focus their attention on eternity, rather than on the ill treatment of the world or the less than kind treatment of others even within Christianity. Having an eye on eternity helps us to envision more clearly just how short life on earth truly is. Therefore, there is no time for hatred, bitterness, resentment, or our foolishly wallowing in self-pity because of cruel mistreatment of us by others.

And yet, let us never forget that in and of ourselves we shall not attain to that place of being perfect. Only as we live in the power and indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit can we be perfectly forgiven through a present tense belief in Jesus and perfectly equipped to stand firm in the face of hurtful opposition. Only then shall we become a perfect reflection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was and is a perfect reflection of our Father in heaven.

So, which will it be? Will we love our enemy as instructed by Jesus, which there will be many in the end times? Again, this is not an easy decision to make. From a human standpoint I have and will continue to wrestle with the decision to defend myself against enemies or to love my enemies. My desire is to become and to remain a perfect reflection of Jesus at all times. That is my desire!

I understand my flesh is weak, even though God’s Spirit within me is more willing to encourage my proper biblical response to every given situation. So for me and my house, we will attempt to serve the Lord in holiness and to seek Him for godly guidance and His divine direction as we fast approach the end of this age.

A Few Final Words:
My prayer is that we, as end time true believers longing to endure to the end, allow the Word of God, and especially this loving our enemies teaching to become as natural as does breathing. And my desire will remain that of not wanting to grieve the Holy Spirit of God by responding in my flesh to the cruel treatment of my enemies. If you are like me and like so many more, you probably have already had some experience in loving your enemies. How are we doing thus far?

In closing, as Spirit filled believers, our lives are to be perfect reflections of the One we serve, and who left us His perfect example to follow. That is exactly what following Jesus is all about! As leaders in training our lives should perfectly reflect the light and love of Jesus Christ. And when it does not, we should and we must seek repentance and God’s forgiveness along with His new every morning mercy.

Only through an up to date personal present tense enduring to the end life in Christ, can we better learn to truly love our enemies and produce a perfect reflection of Jesus and His perfect teachings. And according to Jesus, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, teach us the lesson of loving our enemies. Teach us to bless and never curse and to pray for Your will and kingdom to come. In Him Always, Amen!

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