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                           "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES"


INTRODUCTION

1. One of the more challenging commands given by Jesus is to love your
   enemies...
   a. Given in His sermon on the mount - Mt 5:43-44
   b. Again in His sermon on the plain - Lk 6:27-28,35

2. Yet when taken to heart and applied properly, loving your enemies
   can..
   a. Bless and transform your own life
   b. Truly make this world a better place

[Let's examine Jesus' command to love your enemies more closely by first
asking...]

I. WHO IS YOUR ENEMY?

   A. ANYONE WHO CURSES YOU...
      1. Who speaks ill about you or to you - Mt 5:44; Lk 6:28
      2. Like Shimei did to David - cf. 2Sa 16:5-8,13

   B. ANYONE WHO HATES YOU...
      1. Who for some reason despises you - Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27
      2. For either racial, political, religious, or personal reasons
         - e.g., Jn 15:18-19

   C. ANYONE WHO SPITEFULLY USES YOU...
      1. Who abuses, treats despitefully, falsely accuses you - Mt 5:44;
         Lk 6:28
      2. To mistreat you in any way, like they did Jesus - Mt 27:27-30

   D. ANYONE WHO PERSECUTES YOU...
      1. Who prosecutes and pursues with repeated acts of enmity
         (WordStudy) - Mt 5:44
      2. Like Saul of Tarsus (Paul) did the Christians - Ac 8:3; 9:1-2;
         22:4; 26:9-11; Ga 1:13

[Our enemy can be a family member, neighbor, co-worker, fellow-citizen,
or government representative (local or foreign). In other words, just
about anyone who does not like us.  Now let's ask...]

II. WHY LOVE YOUR ENEMY?

   A. TO BE LIKE GOD...
      1. To be sons of our Father in heaven - Mt 5:45,48
      2. Who is kind to evil and unthankful men - Lk 6:35-36; cf. Ro
         5:8,10; Col 1:21

   B. TO BE UNLIKE SINNERS...
      1. Who love those who love them - Mt 5:46-47; Lk 6:32-33
      2. Which is human nature, but we are to be partakers of divine
         nature - cf. 2Pe 1:4; Ep 5:1-2

   C. TO OVERCOME EVIL...
      1. Not letting evil overcome you - Ro 12:20-21
         a. "I will never let another man ruin my life by making me hate
            him." - George Washington Carver
         b. "Those who hate you don't win unless you hate them - and
            then you destroy yourself." - Richard Nixon
      2. Overcoming evil by doing good - Ro 12:20-21
         a. "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of
            them?" - Abraham Lincoln
         b. "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy
            into friend." - Martin L. King, Jr.

[The ultimate goal should be to transform our enemies into brethren (cf.
Ro 10:1).  Is that not what God did with us?  So let us now ask...]

III. HOW TO LOVE YOUR ENEMY?

   A. BY BLESSING THEM...
      1. As commanded by Jesus, Paul, and Peter - Mt 5:44; Ro 12:14; 1Pe
         3:9
      2. The word "bless" here means to "speak well of" or "speak well
         to" - Barnes

   B. BY DOING GOOD TO THEM...
      1. As taught in both Covenants - Exo 23:4-5; Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27; Ga
         6:10
      2. Which has the potential of transforming our enemies - Pro
         25:21-22; e.g., 2Ki 6:22-23

   C. BY PRAYING FOR THEM...
      1. As Jesus taught - Mt 5:44; Lk 6:28
      2. As Jesus and His disciples exemplified - Lk 23:34; Ac 7:60; Ro
         10:1

   D. WITH ACTIVE GOOD WILL...
      1. Which is the meaning of the word "love" (Gr., agape)
      2. Beautifully defined by Paul - 1Co 13:4-8 (imagine treating
         enemies like this!)

CONCLUSION

1. We are not commanded to love our enemies with affection in our
   hearts...
   a. Experienced in families (Gr., storge)
   b. Expressed among friends (Gr., phileo)
   c. Especially with brethren (Gr., philadelphia)

2. We are commanded to love our enemies with an act of the will...
   a. Displaying active good will toward them (Gr., agape)
   b. Blessing them, doing to good them, praying for them

However, where agape love is consistently shown it is not unusual for
phileo love to gradually develop.  Even if not, we still have the duty
and privilege to be "sons of the Most High"...

   For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived,
   serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy,
   hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the
   love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of
   righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He
   saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of
   the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through
   Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His
   grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal
   life. - Tit 3:3-7
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