LOVING YOUR ENEMIES:

There is No Option!

 

 

     Matt 5:43-48    “You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good, and sends rain on {the} righteous and {the} unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more {than others}  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  (NAS)

 

     Rom 12:17-21    Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath {of God}, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.  "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (NAS)

 

     Luke 6:26-28, 32-33    “Woe {to you} when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.  But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you....And if you love those who love you, what credit is {that} to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is {that} to you? For even sinners do the same.”  (NAS)

     

     Luke 6:35-36    But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil {men.}  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”  (NAS)

 

     Matt 6:14-15    For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.  (NAS)

 

     Matt 18:21-35    Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.  And when he had begun to settle {them,} there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents.  But since he did not have {the means} to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.  The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.'  And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.  But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and {began} to choke {him,} saying, 'Pay back what you owe.'  So his fellow slave fell down and {began} to entreat him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.'  He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.  So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.  Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me.  Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?'  And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.  So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”  (NAS)

 

     Mark 11:25-26    And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”   (NAS)

 

     Luke 11:4  'And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'"  (NAS)

 

     Luke 17:1-5    And He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.  Be on your guard!  If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him.”  And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  (NAS)

 

     Luke 23:33-34    And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.  But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."  (NAS)

 

     1 Cor 4:11-13   To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, {even} until now.   (NAS)

 

     1 Pet 3:8-17    To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.  For, "Let him who means to love life and see good days Refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile.  And let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.  And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, {you are} blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always {being} ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.   (NAS)

 

 

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Love our enemies?  Forgive them?  Bless them?  Feed and give them drink?  This is almost a foreign concept to most Christians in America.  Although many believers could name at least someone whom they consider an enemy, either by mutual agreement, or because of negative interaction with that person or persons, the notion of calling their adversary an “enemy” seems to be too harsh a term.  Before analyzing the teachings from Scripture, perhaps it would be best to start with some examples of what an “enemy” could be to you:

 

     A vindictive ex-spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend who makes your life miserable

     Someone on the job who insults and taunts you because of your faith

     Children at school who taunt, tease and make fun of you

     A close relative that slanders you, and works to destroy your relations with other 

        members of the family

     Someone who has abused you, your child, or children

     A Christian brother that has burned you on a business deal, or has sued you in a court of law

     Someone that has robbed, beaten, or raped you

     An unjust judge who has sentenced you to jail time or fines falsely

     An angry, inconsiderate driver on the freeway who nearly causes you to get in an   accident, or who intentionally plays dangerous “games” with you on the road

     One or both of your parents that abused you for years as a child

     Someone that has murdered a friend, spouse, or a close relative

     A fellow “Christian”, or group of Christians who gossips about you to others

     A fellow “Christian” who betrays your trust, in any way

 

The list of examples of what could be considered one’s enemy is endless.  Everyone has encountered someone in their lifetime that has caused them deep grief, pain and sorrow.  Many believers have learned how to “forgive” their enemies, believing it is the “Scriptural” thing to do, but few have actually learned how to love their enemies.  Too often we have imbibed the world’s view that we have the “right” to hate or despise those who have wronged us.  Loving our enemies has become optional, and we don’t realize that we are disobeying the Word of God our attitude and actions.

 

The reason for this study is to prepare the true believer for the difficult days that lie ahead.  The Scriptures prophesy of a time of tribulation which shall come upon the earth such as the world has never seen before, nor ever shall see after it.  It will be a time of intense persecution for followers of Jesus, and a time when even Christians will betray one another.  This type of intense persecution, which involves imprisonment, torture, and even death, is already being experienced by millions of Christians in countries like China, Pakistan, Sudan, North Korea and many others.  Our country has not yet experienced the genocide seen in other nations, but there is a time coming when we shall not be exempt.  Unless we learn how to practice a lifestyle of forgiving and loving our enemies now, how will we endure in the day of wrath?  We love to sit around and speak negatively of our immoral government leaders, telling jokes about them rather than praying for their salvation.  Please, don’t feel condemned, the author is as guilty as the reader.  But we, as true believers in Jesus, must re-examine our attitude towards those that are “antichrist”, and begin to beseech the Almighty for a love that “bears all things.” 

(1 Cor. 13:4-8)

 

Some may say to themselves, “I don’t believe that kind of persecution will ever come to America.  After all, this nation was founded on faith in God, and the Bible.  But let me ask you dear reader, is America still following after righteousness? 

 

·        Our nation murders millions of unborn children each year, with absolutely no conscience that an evil has been committed. 

·        Gay rights activists stage ‘Gay Pride Day’ parades, in which thousands of practicing homosexuals, led by government officials, parade their sinful lifestyle in open array. 

·        The media vilifies Christians, while it endorses open promiscuity, adultery, slasher movies, and countless other ungodly messages. 

·        Our schools teach children that we evolved from monkeys, while mocking the notion that a Divine Creator made the universe. 

·        Professional athletes are almost deified by idolizing fans, including those among them who are leading lives filled with sin and debauchery. 

·        Rock stars openly praise Satan before crowds of thousands screaming chants such as, “Hail Satan!” 

 

Need I go on?  Yes, I will go on.  The Christian church is almost as guilty as the unbeliever in America.  We have our nice church services, our little programs, our Christian bookstores, Christian concerts, Christian books, Christian counseling, etc., etc..  But are believers in this country busy about their Father’s business? 

 

·        Are we reaching out to our own neighbors with God’s love and mercy? 

·        Do we reach the homeless and the poor in our own neighborhoods with food and clothing? 

·        Do we hide our lights underneath a bushel, instead of letting it shine on a hilltop? 

·        Do we spend our free time seeking the Lord, and helping others, or playing our computer games, watching T.V., or whatever? 

·        Is it easier for us to gossip about the evil around us rather than to change it? 

·        Are we making the most of our time, because the days are evil?  (Eph. 5:14-17)

 

Proverbs 14:24 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to {any} people.” (NAS).  Has our nation become a disgrace before the Almighty?  Already we see God’s judgements being poured out through earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, famine, incurable disease epidemics, ravaging forest fires etc..  Our own children are gunning each other down in bloody massacres at public schools.  Are Americans heeding the warnings?  Are Christians even giving the warnings? 

 

Most believers are hoping that a great “revival” will someday come to this fallen nation of ours, yet they are not willing to sacrifice their time, their energy, their emotions, their resources, to see God’s Spirit move.  They hope that if only they faithfully attend church, pay their tithes and offerings, go to Promise Keeper’s meetings, attend church retreats, or do whatever other Christian “duties” are required by their pastor, then the Holy Spirit will begin to save the lost and tear down dividing walls.  Nearly all ministries or churches think “they” will be the one’s through whom the great revival in America will happen.  Yet only a few, very few, individual believers are willing to take on the personal responsibility of reaching the lost, the hurting, and the abandoned with Jesus’ love. 

 

In China, Russia, North Korea, and other persecuted countries where being a Christian is against the law, believers risk their lives daily to share the gospel.  One pastor in Rwanda recently had his entire family, wife and children, hacked to pieces with machetes by godless men who were full of hatred for Christ and his followers.  Yet these faithful martyrs continue to forgive their enemies, and share the love of Jesus with their attackers.  What kind of love and commitment do they have to causes them to act this way?  Selah (think about it)!

 

     John 4:34-38    Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.  Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and {then} comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.  Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.  For in this {case} the saying is true, 'One sows, and another reaps.'  I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."  (NAS)

 

     Matt 9:36-38    And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."  (NAS)

 

     Eph 5:14-17    For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."  Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  (NAS)

 

Yes, history will repeat itself, and this once great nation of ours will soon fall.  The beast with ten horns has already set in place a one world government, to one day be ruled by the world’s most horrific despot, the Antichrist (Rev. 12:3,4,17; 13:1,6,7).   True believers will be betrayed by their own “so-called” Christian brethren who are lukewarm, self-serving, and compromising their commitment to God.  Many will suffer great persecution, imprisonment, torture, death, and worse, seeing their loved one’s hurt (Rev. 3:9).  The Scripture is replete with warnings of the events that shall soon be upon us.

 

     Matt 24:9-10   “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.  And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another.”  (NAS)

 

     Matt 24:21-22   For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.  And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.”  (NAS)

 

     Rev 2:10-11   'Do not fear what you are about to suffer.  Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.'  (NAS)

 

     2 Tim 3:12-14    And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  But evil men and impostors will proceed {from bad} to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned {them}.   (NAS)

 

     John 15:20  "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.'  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  (NAS)

 

     Matt 5:10-12  "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when {men} cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.  Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (NAS)

 

     Matt 10:17-22   "But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to {the} courts, and scourge you in their synagogues; and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak.  For it is not you who speak, but {it is} the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.  And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father {his} child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death.  And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”  (NAS)

 

     Luke 21:12-17   "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake...But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put {some} of you to death, and you will be hated by all on account of My name.  (NAS)

 

     Mark 13:11-13   And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but {it is} the Holy Spirit.  And brother will deliver brother to death, and a father {his} child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”  NAS)

 

     John 15:18-20   If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before {it hated} you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.'  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”  (NAS)

 

     John 17:14-15   “I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil {one.}”  (NAS)

 

     Luke 12:49-53   I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!  But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!  Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth?  I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five {members} in one household will be divided, three against two, and two against three.  They will be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”  (NAS)

 

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 WHAT CAN THE TRUE BELIEVER EXPECT IN THE DAYS AHEAD?                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

 

1.  We will be delivered up to tribulation and killed.  (Matt. 24:9-10)

 

2.  We will be hated by all nations (Greek for “nations” is “ethnos”, meaning races).  We 

     will be hated by all ethnic groups.  (Matt. 24:9-10)

 

3.  Many believers will fall away from the faith, and will “deliver” one another up, and 

     hate one another.  Strong’s Concordance defines “deliver” as: 

                                        

3860 paradidomi (par-ad-id'-o-me); from 3844 and 1325;

to surrender, i.e. yield up, entrust, transmit: KJV-- betray,

deliver (up), give (over, up),  hazard, put in prison, recommend. 

 

This means is that our apostate brethren will “surrender” true Jesus people up to government authorities.  ( Matt. 24:9-10)

 

4.  The devil will cause some of us to be cast into prison, where we will suffer “ten days,”  

     and be faithful unto death.  (Rev. 2:10-11)

 

     The number “ten” is symbolic for fullness; that is, a full amount of time.  We will be

     imprisoned for long periods of time, while enduring horrific conditions, including hunger,

     verbal abuse, beatings, and for many, death.

 

5.  All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  This

     “persecution” will come as evil men, and “imposters” posing as believers proceed

     from bad, to worse, deceiving us, while they themselves become more deceived.           

     (2 Tim. 3:12-14)  If they persecuted Jesus, they will persecute us. (John 15:20)  A 

     slave is not greater than His Master; we are not of this ungodly world, we won’t 

     conform to their standards, therefore the world hates us. (John 15:18-20; 17:14-15)

 

6.  We will be persecuted for the sake of righteousness as men cast insults at us, and say

     all manner of evil falsely about us. (Matt. 5:10-12)  We have to beware of men,  

     because they will cause us to be arrested and brought before the courts and 

     government officials, falsely accused, imprisoned, even scourged (i.e.-beaten).  We 

     will even be brought before presidents, kings, and governors, on trial for His name’s

     sake. (Luke 21:12-17; Mark 13:11-13; Matt. 10:17-22)

 

7.  The following is a list from the Scriptures above of the types of people that will betray

     us and become our enemies for the sake of Jesus’ name:

 

·        ALL NATIONS (I.E.-ETHNIC GROUPS)

·        CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE FALLEN AWAY FROM THEIR FAITH IN JESUS

·        EVIL MEN AND IMPOSTERS POSING AS BELIEVERS

·        BROTHERS WILL DELIVER UP BROTHERS TO DEATH

·        FATHERS WILL BETRAY THEIR CHILDREN

·        CHILDREN WILL RISE UP AGAINST PARENTS & PUT THEM TO DEATH

·        WE WILL BE HATED BY ALL FOR JESUS’ NAME SAKE

·        WE WILL BE DELIVERED UP BY PARENTS, BROTHERS, RELATIVES AND FRIENDS, AND THEY WILL PUT SOME OF US TO DEATH

·        FIVE MEMBERS IN ONE HOUSEHOLD WILL BE DIVIDED, THREE             AGAINST TWO, AND TWO AGAINST THREE.  THEY WILL BE DIVIDED FATHER AGAINST SON, AND SON AGAINST FATHER; MOTHER AGAINST DAUGHTER, AND DAUGHTER AGAINST MOTHER; MOTHER-IN-LAW AGAINST DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST MOTHER-IN-LAW.

 

The Scripture verses we have studied thus far offer undeniable proof that we will soon experience persecution and tribulation of a magnitude that goes beyond our present comprehension.  Our own relatives, our friends, other Christians...?  Can it really be possible?  If Jesus said it will happen, you can count on it.  One glaring example from the verses above is,”...children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.” (Mark 13:11-13)

 

If our own children would betray us to death, certainly Jesus’ command to, “...love your

enemies,” hits home in a very personal way.  We often get upset and revengeful toward someone that tailgates us on the freeway.  If we are this shallow in our love towards strangers angry at us, how will we react when our closest friends and relatives betray us?  Would we really have God’s love for them?  It is even difficult for this author to write on a subject so unfamiliar to his own personal experience, but the Lord has spoken to me to prepare for the future.  With that thought in mind, let us examine some Scripture verses on how we are to respond to those who hurt, betray, and abuse us, or our loved ones.

 

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 DEFINING LOVE AS AN APPLICATION TO LOVING OUR ENEMIES

 

 

So far we have learned that we are to love, forgive, bless, and do good to those who are our enemies, whether the persecution comes from within the church through imposters, or from outside the church.  In order for us to understand “love” as it applies to these situations, we will use 1 Cor. 13:4-8 as our text.  From each of the key virtues of love mentioned in this passage, we shall compile a list of corresponding verses that are tied to persecution from our enemies, or those who treat us harshly.  We will learn that “love,” particularly God’s love, goes far beyond just our “feelings” and requires a personal and committed relationship to God the Father, and His son, Jesus Christ.

 

1.  Information quoted from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic Database Copyright (C) 1996 by Biblesoft:

 

I. Definition -- While the Hebrew and Greek words for "love" have various shades and intensities of meaning, they may be summed up in some such definition as this: Love, whether used of God or man, is an earnest and anxious desire for and an active and beneficent interest in the well-being of the one loved. Different degrees and manifestations of this affection are recognized in the Scriptures according to the circumstances and relations of life, e.g. the expression of love as between husband and wife, parent and child, brethren according to the flesh, and according to grace; between friend and enemy, and, finally, between God and man.

 

II. The Love of God -- First in the consideration of the subject of "love" comes the love of God-- He who is love, and from whom all love is derived. The love of God is that part of His nature-- indeed His whole nature, for "God is love"-- which leads Him to express Himself in terms of endearment toward His creatures, and actively to manifest that interest and affection in acts of loving care and self-sacrifice in behalf of the objects of His love. God is "love" <1 Jn 4:8,16> just as truly as He is "light" <1:5>, "truth" <1:6>, and "spirit" <Jn 4:24>. Spirit and light are expressions of His essential nature; love is the expression of His personality corresponding to His nature. God not merely loves, but is love; it is His very nature, and He imparts this nature to be the sphere in which His children dwell, for "he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him" <1 Jn 4:16>.

 

III. Objects of Man's Love: God must be the first and supreme object of man's love; He must be loved with all the heart, mind, soul and strength (<Mt 22:37> f; <Mk 12:29-34>). In this last passage the exhortation to supreme love to God is connected with the doctrine of the unity of God (<Deut 6:4> f)-- inasmuch as the Divine Being is one and indivisible, so must our love to Him be undivided. Our love to God is shown in the keeping of His commandments <Exo 20:6; 1 Jn 5:3; 2 Jn 6>. Love is here set forth as more than a mere affection or sentiment; it is something that manifests itself, not only in obedience to known Divine commands, but also in a protecting and defense of them, and a seeking to know more and more of the will of God in order to express love for God in further obedience (compare <Deut 10:12>).

 

IV.  Man must love his fellow-man also. Love for the brotherhood is a natural consequence of the love of the fatherhood; for "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother" <1 Jn 3:10>. For a man to say "I love God" and yet hate his fellowman is to brand himself as "a liar" <4:20>; "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen" (verse 20); he that loveth God will love his brother also (verse 21). The degree in which we are to love our fellow-man is "as thyself" <Mt 22:39>, according to the strict observance of law.

Christ set before His followers a much higher example than that, however. According to the teaching of Jesus we are to supersede this standard: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" <Jn 13:34>. The exhibition of love of this character toward our fellow-man is the badge of true discipleship. It may be called the sum total of our duty toward our fellow-man, for "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: love therefore is the fulfillment of the law"; "for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law" <Rom 13:8,10>. The qualities which should characterize the love which we are to manifest toward our fellow-men are beautifully set forth in <1 Cor 13>. It is patient and without envy; it is not proud or self-elated, neither does it behave discourteously; it does not cherish evil, but keeps good account of the good; it rejoices not at the downfall of an enemy or competitor, but gladly hails his success; it is hopeful, trustful and forbearing-- for such there is no law, for they need none; they have fulfilled the law.

            Nor should it be overlooked that Our Lord commanded His children to love their enemies, those who spoke evil of them, and despiteful used them <Mt 5:43-48>. They were not to render evil for evil, but contrariwise, blessing. The love of the disciple of Christ must manifest itself in supplying the necessities, not of our friends only <1 Jn 3:16-18>, but also of our enemies (<Rom 12:20> f).

 

2.  Information taken from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words

     (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers):

 

            1. agapao ^25^ and the corresponding noun agape (B, No. 1 below) present "the LOVE (NOUN AND VERB)

 

            "Agape and agapao are used in the NT (a) to describe the attitude of God toward His Son, <John 17:26>; the human race, generally, <John 3:16; Rom. 5:8>, and to such as believe on the Lord Jesus Christ particularly <John 14:21>; (b) to convey His will to His children concerning their attitude one toward another, <John 13:34>, and toward all men, <1 Thes. 3:12; 1 Cor. 16:14; 2 Pet. 1:7>; (c) to express the essential nature of God, <1 John 4:8>."Love can be known only from the actions it prompts. God's love is seen in the gift of His Son, <1 John 4:9,10>. But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects, <Rom. 5:8>. It was an exercise of the divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself, Cf. <Deut. 7:7,8>.  "Love had its perfect ex-pression among men in the Lord Jesus Christ, <2 Cor. 5:14; Eph. 2:4; 3:19; 5:2>; Christian love is the fruit of His Spirit in the Christian, <Gal. 5:22>.  "Christian love has God for its primary object, and expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to His commandments, <John 14:15, 21,23; 15:10; 1 John 2:5; 5:3;

2 John 6>. Selfwill, that is, self-pleasing, is the negation of love to God.  "Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered. Love seeks the welfare of all, <Rom. 15:2>, and works no ill to any, <13:8-10>; love seeks opportunity to do good to all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith,' <Gal. 6:10>. See further <1 Cor. 13> and <Col. 3:12-14>." From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 105.

 

            In respect of agapao as used of God, it expresses the deep and constant "love" and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential "love" in them towards the Giver, and a practical "love" towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others to seek the Giver.  (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

 

****************

 

SUMMARY POINTS OF DEFINITION

 

LOVE IS:

 

 

     An earnest and anxious desire for, and active beneficent interest in, the well being of the one loved.  In other words, we must desire the well being of our enemies; the beneficent interest of understanding their hurts, their pain, their bitterness, their hatred, and in seeing their salvation, EVEN AT THE EXPENSE OF OUR OWN LIFE.

 

     The expression of God’s essential nature; God is love.  We must dwell in the sphere of His love to love our enemies.  Love is more than mere affection or sentiment, but we can best express His love by being obedient to His commandment to love our enemies.

 

     Seeking to know more and more of the will of God, in order to express love for God in further obedience.  We must continually seek His will by developing a lifestyle of giving, forgiving, and loving those who hurt, betray, hate and oppose us.  It is important to seek the Giver first, and then to give.  Without seeking the Father’s love, our human ability will not be enough to love our enemies when they abuse us, or our loved ones.

 

     The degree to which we love our fellow man as ourselves; this includes loving our enemies as our own selves.  We must also love our enemies as Jesus loved us (e.g  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”  Luke 23:34).

 

     The qualities set forth in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 are the qualities of love (i.e.-agape) needed to love our enemies.  Later we will examine the verses in this chapter that relate to developing love for our enemies.

 

     Not rendering evil for evil, but contrariwise, blessing our enemies.  Revenge must be eradicated from our attitudes towards our enemies, and further, it should be replaced with a desire to see the blessing of God in their lives.

 

     An exercise in deliberate choice; that is, we must deliberately choose to love our enemies.

 

     Not self-pleasing, not self-willed.  Love seeks to please God, who desires, and commands us to love our enemies, even if we don’t feel like it.  When someone hates you, insults you, betrays you, persecutes you, etc., the natural inclination is not to seek their well-being.  To love your enemies requires that you “deny” your will and desires, and deny your “right” to hold a grudge or ill feelings towards your enemy.

 

     Doing good to all men, including our enemies.  It is a desire to help them seek God as they observe your behavior and Christ-like reaction of forgiveness toward their bitter hatred, jealousy and anger.

The definitions that have been given above of “agape” (noun) and “agapao” (verb) are by no means comprehensive.  God’s love goes for beyond what could be explained in a short Bible study.  However, it will give the true seeker some principles, and a place to begin learning how to love their enemies.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is our next text to examine:

 

 

1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-8:

 

 

Love is patient, love is kind, {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,} does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. (NAS)

 

1. LOVE IS PATIENT

 

3114  makrothumeo (mak-roth-oo-meh'-o); from the same as 3116; to be long-spirited, i.e. (objectively) forbearing or (subjectively) patient: KJV-- bear (suffer) long, be longsuffering, have (long) patience, be patient, patiently endure.

 

     2 Cor 1:3-6    Blessed {be} the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.  But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.  (NAS)

 

     1 Thes 5:14-15    And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.  See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men. (NAS)

 

     2 Tim 2:24-26    And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses {and escape} from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.  (NAS)

 

     James 5:6-8   You have condemned and put to death the righteous {man;} he does not resist you.  Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.  You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  (NAS)

 

     2 Cor 6:4-6   But in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonment’s, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love.  (NAS)

 

     Gal 5:22-23   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (NAS)

 

     2 Tim 3:10-11     But you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, {and} sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium {and} at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me!  (NAS)

 

     2 Tim 4:2    Preach the word; be ready in season {and} out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

 

     2 Tim 4:5    But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  (NAS)

 

     1 Pet 2:19-23    For this {finds} favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer {for it} you patiently endure it, this {finds} favor with God.  For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting {Himself} to Him who judges righteously.  (NAS)

 

 

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM “LOVE IS PATIENT”?

 

     To love our enemies means to be “long-spirited”; forbearing, patiently enduring their torment.  Makrothumeo (“patient”) can also be translated, “to be long-tempered.”  We will become angry at the unjust treatment by the hands of our enemies; our “temper” is a response to the hurt we feel when wronged.

 

     The type of persecution we will endure in the future will put many in a position of imprisonment, constant harassment, surveillance, raids by government officials on house church meetings etc..  We must be “long-tempered” in this; that is, by way of analogy, we must allow the anvil and hammer in the heat of persecution to “temper” our anger into endurance.

     James 1:2-4  Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have {its} perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (NAS)

 

     Rom 5:3-5  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (NAS)

 

    LONGSUFFERING (NOUN AND VERB)

 

            A. Noun.   makrothumia ^3115^, "forbearance, patience, longsuffering" (makros, "long," thumos, "temper"), is usually rendered "longsuffering," <Rom. 2:4; 9:22; 2 Cor. 6:6; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:2; Col. 1:11; 3:12; 1 Tim. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:10; 4:2; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:15>; "patience" in <Heb. 6:12> and <Jas. 5:10>. See PATIENCE, and Note under FORBEAR.#

            B. Verb.  makrothumeo ^3114^, akin to A, "to be patient, longsuffering, to bear with," lit., "to be long-tempered," is rendered by the verb "to be longsuffering" in <Luke 18:7>, RV (KJV, "bear long"); in <1 Thes. 5:14>, RV (KJV, "be patient"); so in <Jas. 5:7,8>; in <2 Pet. 3:9>, KJV and RV, "is longsuffering." See BEAR, No. 14, ENDURE, PATIENT, SUFFER.  Note: "Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy, and is used of God, <Ex. 34:6> (Sept.); <Rom. 2:4; 1 Pet. 3:20>. Patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial; it is the opposite of despondency and is associated with hope, <1 Thes. 1:3>; it is not used of God."      From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 183, 184.

(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

 

     We must allow God to comfort us in our affliction by our enemies, so that we can comfort others with the comfort we have received from God.  This will be especially necessary as persecution escalates in our nation against Christians.  The comforting of one another is very effective in producing patient endurance, because the tender care we give produces hope in the one being afflicted   (1 Cor.1:3-6).

 

     A significant part of learning to love our enemies is being “patient with all men.”  Though it may be difficult, we cannot allow the mind-set that wants to repay anotherevil for evil.”  Rather we should “seek the good” for all men.  (Thes. 5:14-15)  We must be “patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the truth (2 Tim.  2:24-26).   To do this, it is important to consider the example of the Son of God, who, “while being reviled, did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” (1 Pet. 2:19-23) If we suffer unjustly for the sake of doing what is right, and for the sake of conscience toward God (i.e.-not denying His name), then we will find the favor (grace) we need to bear up under punishment.  Many martyrs in times past have been able to sing praises to their Lord while being executed or burned at the stake because of the supernatural favor they found with God in persecution.  However, in America, where the media has used novels, television and movies to portray the “good guys” as always seeking revenge on those who have wronged them, it has engraved a “get even” mentality in a majority of people, Christian and unbelievers alike.  If we feed on things that are “good” and “pure”, our chances of responding in a Christ-like manner will greatly increase.

 

     Phil 4:8   Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.   (NAS)

 

     Titus 1:15-16     To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.  They profess to know God, but by {their} deeds they deny {Him}  being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.  (NAS)

 

     Prove 15:1-2  A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.  (NAS)

 

     Our last comment on the patience of agape love towards our enemies is the need to “endure hardship.” (1 Tim. 4:5)  One must resolve to endure, particularly when persecution takes it’s toll physically, emotionally and mentally.  If we faithfully live a lifestyle that shows love to the unkind and unloving now, endurance will follow.

 

     2 Tim 2:3-4   Suffer hardship with {me,} as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.   No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. (NAS)

 

2. LOVE “IS KIND

 

     5541  chresteuomai (khraste-yoo'-om-ahee); middle voice from 5543; to show oneself useful, i.e. act benevolently:KJV-- be kind.

 

·        KIND (ADJECTIVE), KIND (BE), KINDLY, KINDNESS

chrestos ^5543^, "serviceable, good, pleasant" (of things), "good, gracious, kind" (of

persons), is translated "kind" in <Luke 6:35>, of God; in <Eph. 4:32>, enjoined upon

believers.  B. Verb. chresteuomai ^5541^, akin to A, No. 1, "to be kind," is said of love,

<1 Cor.  13:4>.#  C. Nouns. 1. chrestotes ^5544^, akin to A, No. 1, and B, used of "goodness of heart,  kindness," is translated "kindness" in <2 Cor. 6:6; Gal. 5:22>, RV (KJV, "gentleness");  <Eph. 2:7; Col. 3:12; Titus 3:4>. See GOODNESS.   

(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of   Biblical Words) (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

 

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM “LOVE IS KIND?

 

The kindness spoken of here, when directed towards those that hate and despise us, is to show oneself useful by exhibiting good and gracious words and actions.  This type of benevolent usefulness can only be exhibited to an individual that is raging against you if that goodness comes from your heart.  When we consider the kindness and goodness of God towards us, it is the motivator that causes us to desire to be merciful even to our enemies.

 

     Luke 6:35-36  But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.(KJV)

 

     Eph 4:32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (KJV)

 

 

If God Himself is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil man, shouldn’t we also do the same?  We must never forget the way in which the Almighty used His Son as a propitiation for our sins, to remind us to be, merciful as our Father also is merciful.”

 

     Ps 18:25   With the kind Thou dost show thyself kind; with the blameless Thou dost show thyself blameless.  (NAS)

 

     Prov 3:3-5    Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  (NAS)

 

     Micah 6:8   He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  (NAS)

 

     Rom 11:22   Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.  (NAS)

 

     Col 3:12-14    And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;  bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.  And beyond all these things {put on} love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  (NAS)

 

     2 Pet 1:5-11  Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in {your} moral excellence, knowledge; and in {your} knowledge, self-control, and in {your} self-control, perseverance, and in {your} perseverance, godliness; and in {your} godliness, brotherly kindness, and in {your} brotherly kindness, love.  For if these {qualities} are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these {qualities} is blind {or} short-sighted, having forgotten {his} purification from his former sins.  Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.  (NAS)

 

     Prov 16:7  When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.  (NAS)

 

3.  LOVE IS “NOT ARROGANT”

 

VAUNT (ONESELF) - BE ARROGANT  perpereuomai ^4068^, "to boast or vaunt oneself" (from perperos, "vainglorious, braggart," not in the NT), is used in <1 Cor. 13:4>, negatively of love.#   (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)   (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

 

It would be impossible for the arrogant and the boastful man to love his enemies.  I watched a television preacher recently brag on how tough he was, and his ability to take out anyone who attacked him.  Can you imagine this man’s horror when he, or his family is dragged off, imprisoned and tortured?  The poison of the root of bitterness would spring up in a person that is a braggart when they find out how truly weak and frail they are without the Spirit and the power of God’s love.

 

     Ps 101:5   Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; no one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.  (NAS)

 

     Prov 14:16-17   A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.  A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated. (NAS)

 

     Prov 28:25-26    An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.  He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. (NAS)

 

     1 Cor 4:19-20    But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power.  For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power.  (NAS)

 

     1 Cor 8:1-3   Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.  If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.  (NAS)

 

     James 3:13-15   Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and {so} lie against the truth.  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.  (NAS)

 

     2 Pet 2:18-21  For speaking out arrogant {words} of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live  in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of  corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if after they have escaped the defilement’s of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.  For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.  (NAS)

 

     Ps 75:4-7  "I said to the boastful, 'Do not boast,' and to the wicked, 'Do not lift up the horn; Do not lift up your horn on high, do not speak with insolent pride.'"  For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert {comes} exaltation; But God is the Judge; He puts down one, and exalts another.  (NAS)

 

     Gal 5:24-26  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.  (NAS)

 

     I Jn 2:16-18  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  And the world is passing away, and {also} its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.  Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. (NAS)

 

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM “LOVE IS NOT ARROGANT?”

 

An arrogant and boastful man is incapable of loving his enemies because he is quick tempered and acts foolishly.  When his persecutors provoke him, he does not respond cautiously or with wisdom, but he stirs up strife as a braggart.  He challenges his enemies with fleshly pride, not realizing that this type of behavior is earthly, natural and demonic.

 

The loving believer responds to his enemies taunts with good behavior, in the gentleness of wisdom.  The arrogant man becomes a “tough guy” image, speak out arrogant words of vanity.  Enticed by his own fleshly desires, he has forgotten that God is the power and the Judge.  God is the One who puts down and exalts.  To love our enemies when we are persecuted, we must walk by the spirit and not become boastful by challenging our foes. 

 

 

4.  LOVE ”DOES NOT ACT UNBECOMINGLY”

 

807  aschemoneo (as-kay-mon-eh'-o);from 809; to be (i.e. act) unbecoming: KJV-- behave self uncomely (unseemly).

 

BEHAVE, BEHAVIOR

            4. aschemoneo ^807^, "to be unseemly" (a, negative, and schema, "a form"), is used in <1 Cor. 7:36>, "behave (himself) unseemly," i. e., so as to run the risk of bringing the virgin daughter into danger or disgrace, and in <13:5>, "doth (not) behave itself unseemly."#

            B. Nouns.

            1. anastrophe ^391^, lit., "a turning back" (cf. No. 1, above), is translated "manner of life," "living," etc. in the RV, for KJV, "conversation," <Gal. 1:13; Eph. 4:22; 1 Tim. 4:12; Heb. 13:7; Jas. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:15,18; 2:1> ("behavior"); <3:1,2, 16> (ditto); <2 Pet. 2:7; 3:11>.

            A. Verbs.

            1. anastrepho ^390^, "to turn back, return" (ana, "back," strepho, "to turn"), hence, "to move about in a place, to sojourn," and, in the middle and passive voices, "to conduct oneself," indicating one's manner of life and character, is accordingly rendered "behave" in <1 Tim. 3:15>, lit., "how it is necessary to behave," not referring merely to Timothy himself, but to all the members of the local church (see the whole epistle); in <Eph. 2:3>, KJV, "we had our conversation," RV, "we lived"; in <2 Cor. 1:12> "behaved ourselves," for KJV "have had our conversation." See ABIDE, etc. (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

 

To act “unbecomingly” indicates one’s manner of life, his character.  It is the opposite of love; it turns about, and sojourns, or moves, in a direction that is earthly, fleshly.  When faced with enemies, he turns back to his old manner of life before he was delivered from his sins.

 

     Luke 9:62   But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."  (NAS)

 

Unbecoming behavior involves disgracing the beloved name of Jesus.  It tells your enemies that you are no different than they are.  It appeases Satan, because it defeats the purpose of God in wanting to win men to Christ.  If you act unbecomingly, it is really a manifestation of the fear in your heart.  However if your behavior is gentle and kind, you will bear the abuse of your enemies for God’s purposes.

 

     Rom 13:3-5   For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.  Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. (NAS)

 

     James 3:5-6, 8-10, 13-15   So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and {yet} it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, the {very} world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of {our} life, and is set on fire by hell....But no one can tame the tongue; {it is} a restless evil {and} full of deadly poison.  With it we bless {our} Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come {both} blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way....Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and {so} lie against the truth.  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. (NAS)

 

     1 Pet 1:14-16    As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts {which were yours} in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all {your} behavior; because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (NAS)

 

     1 Pet 2:9-16    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for {God's} own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe {them,} glorify God in the day of visitation.  Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.  {Act} as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but {use it} as bondslaves of God. (NAS)

 

     1 Pet 3:14-17  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, {you are} blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always {being} ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. (NAS)

 

 

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM “LOVE DOES NOT ACT UNBECOMINGLY”

 

     If we are wronged by our enemies, particularly those in positions of governmental authority, that good behavior demonstrated towards them, being in subjection to the authority they have, becomes a minister of God to them.  God will actually use our behavior as an “avenger” to bring His wrath upon those who practice evil.

     We must realize that our tongue is a restless evil, and full of deadly poison.  The one who acts “unbecomingly” towards his enemies bu using the tongue to “curse” them is a member of his body set on fire by hell.  That is, Lucifer is using that tongue to bring shame on the name of God the father, and His Son Jesus Christ.  A man who loves his enemies does not “curse” them, but rather uses wisdom and understanding to “bless” his adversaries.  Love shows it’s good behavior in the gentleness of wisdom.

     We must keep our behavior excellent amongst the unbelievers.  By doing so, the things in which they slander us cause them to “glorify God” in the day of “visitation” by Him.  That is, it is on account of our “good deeds” observed by ones who hate us, which causes them to know we are not hypocrites, and the Lord will use the excellent conduct we demonstrate towards them to win some to Christ.  In many countries where it is illegal to believe in Jesus Christ, persecutors have been won to the Lord, as day after day of torturing men and women they observed nothing but kindness in return.  On a few occasions, while in front of a firing squad about to execute them, the believers would ask God to show mercy on their enemies.  Observing this, a few soldiers laid down their weapons, and joined the Christians to executed along with them.. Love is a very powerful force, for God Himself IS love.

     It is often the will of God for us to suffer harm by those who do evil.  If we do suffer, it should be for doing what is right, not what is wrong.   We must not fear their intimidation.  We must abstain from the fleshly lusts that war against our soul, and submit ourselves under the mighty hand of God who shows “grace” to the humble.  At least it is better to suffer for doing what’s right than to suffer persecution for acting “unbecomingly.”

 

5. LOVE “DOES NOT SEEK IT’S OWN”

What does it mean,” …love does not seek it’s own?”  A more thorough translation from the Amplified Bible reads,” ...love does not insist on it’s own rights or it’s own way, it is not self-seeking.”  In other words, when loving our enemies, it is crucial that we not insist on maintaining our “rights” as believers to deal with them “our way.”  We must turn to the Scriptures, and seek to do things “God’s way.”  To do this, we must first realize that when we decided to follow God, by accepting and believing that we were purchased and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we become the servants of the Almighty.  If we are truly following the voice of Jesus, the Great Shepherd, who leads us to the Father, we must submit to His will, and not be “self-seeking.”

 

     Matt 6:10   Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. (NAS)

 

     Matt 7:19-21   “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.  Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” (NAS)

 

     Matt 12:50  "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother." (NAS)

 

     Matt 21:28-31  ”But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.'  "And he answered and said, 'I will, sir'; and he did not go.         "And he came to the second and said the same thing.   But he answered and said, 'I will not'; {yet} he afterward regretted {it} and went.  Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you. (NAS)

 

To be able to love our enemies we must first learn to pray from the heart, Your will be done on earth”  The will of God may often conflict with what we are seeking for ourselves.  Our prayers must also include the willingness to do the will of God.  Even if at first we blow it, and we resist God’s will because of our selfish ambition, if we repent and  then do His will, we will find favor with Him. 

 

The scribes and Pharisees were self-righteous and self-seeking.  Jesus said harlots and tax collectors would enter the kingdom of God before them, if they repent.  The reason for this is because “religious” people are prideful, unwilling to acknowledge their shortcomings.  Many so-called Christians attend church faithfully, thinking that they are part of God’s kingdom.  But what are they doing for others?  Every part of their “Christian” life revolves around the church they attend, rather than reaching the lost and hurting for Christ Jesus.  If they are unwilling to speak out in love to the unlovable now, how will they ever love their enemies when persecution arises?  Meanwhile, as they play church, a few laborers are working in God’s harvest field, laboring to do the Father’s will.  These are the one’s who are learning to love their enemies now.

 

     Matt 26:38-39, 41-42   Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."  And He went a little beyond {them,} and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt....."Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done."  (NAS)

 

     Luke 9:24-25   “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.  For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”  (NAS)

 

     Luke 13:24   "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  (NAS)

 

The Son of God was the ultimate example of someone who did not “seek His own” will.  As He agonized in Gethsemane, grieved to the point that great drops of blood fell from His brow, He prayed, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”  This is truly loving one’s enemies.  Jesus knew the cross meant separation from His very own Father; an intimate relationship He’d developed all of His life.  And now, at the hands of those who hated and despised and were jealous of Him, He was willing to face the blackness of His death.  This example should motivate every true believer to follow in His footsteps, striving to enter by the narrow, self-denying door.

 

     Luke 21:12-15  “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake.  It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.  So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.” (NAS)

 

     John 5:30  ”I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  (NAS)

 

     John 6:38-40  ”For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”  (NAS)

 

Persecution by our enemies can, and should lead to an opportunity to bear a testimony of love towards them.  Knowing this, we must decide mentally, prayerfully, and in our every day lifestyle, not to prepare beforehand how we will respond to their abuse.  Quietly within we should be reminded that like Christ, we have been sent to do the will of the Father, which is to cause men to believe in Jesus Christ, that they might obtain eternal life.  Knowing this, we must trust our Father in heaven to give us the words, the actions, the response that will win our enemies over.

 

·        John 9:31  “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him.  (NAS)

 

·        John 10:2-7   “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.  To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.  When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.  And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."  This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.  Jesus therefore said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”  (NAS)

 

If we are God fearing, that is, if we have a reverence for Him that creates the desire to do His will, we will hear His voice.  We must start now however.  It is important to look for every opportunity to reach out to the unlovable and unloved.  We must not let their rejection of us cease to do God’s will, or else we will be in danger of being unable to hear His voice.  Often the most frightening looking characters are the very people God wants you to share His love with.  When Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice,” He intended for us to respond by following His will, however self-abasing it may be.

 

     John 14:15  If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  (NAS)

 

     Acts 13:22   “And after He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.'  (NAS)

 

     Acts 21:14   And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, "The will of the Lord be done!" (NAS)

 

     Acts 22:12-14   “And a certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, {and} well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very time I looked up at him.  And he said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear an utterance from His mouth.”  (NAS)

 

     Rom 8:26-27   And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for {us} with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to {the} will of God.  (NAS)

 

     Rom 9:19-20   You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"  On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?  (NAS)

 

     2 Cor 7:9-10    I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to {the point of} repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to {the} will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.  For the sorrow that is according to {the will of} God produces a repentance without regret, {leading} to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.  (NAS)

 

     Eph 1:9-10    He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, {that is}  the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. (NAS)

 

     Eph 5:15-17   Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  (NAS)

 

     Eph 6:5-8   Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.  With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. (NAS)

 

     Col 4:12   Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.  (NAS)

 

     1Thes 4:3-5    For this is the will of God, your sanctification; {that is,} that you abstain from sexual immorality;  that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God. (NAS)

 

     1Thes 5:14-18    And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.  See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.  Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  (NAS)

 

     Phile 1:14   But without your consent I did not want to do anything, that your goodness should not be as it were by compulsion, but of your own free will. (NAS)

 

     1 Pet 2:15-17    For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.  {Act} as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but {use it} as bondslaves of God.  Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. (NAS)

 

     1 Pet 4:1-2  Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (NAS)

 

     1 Pet 4:18-19   And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?  Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. (NAS)

 

     I Jn 2:16-17   For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  And the world is passing away, and {also} its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever. (NAS)

 

 

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM “LOVE DOES NOT SEEK IT’S OWN?

 

If we love God and His Son Jesus Christ we will be obedient to the commandment to love our enemies.

As King David, we must have our hearts in a position of seeking after God’s own heart.  Like David, we must seek God’s forgiveness through a heart-felt repentance, and continue to seek after His heart.  We must not hide our sins, nor our light, for this would be seeking our own desires.  David could have killed Saul, his enemy, when he was being pursued by Saul.  But David had God’s heart, and showed love towards his enemy by sparing him.  This is a good example of how we should spare our enemies, even if we have an opportunity for retribution.

Paul’s friends could not convince him not to go to Jerusalem, even though they knew it would mean his eventual death.  They responded, The will of the Lord be done!”  As we observe the dedication of our brethren to face death, torture, and other forms of persecution, we must accept the will of God in these circumstances. 

God has appointed us to know His will.  However, the will of God is often difficult to discern.  We already know that He wants us to love our enemies, but how and when to love them oftentimes remains a mystery.  As we earnestly labor in prayer, we will be fully assured of all of God’s will.   God gave us His spirit so we could pray according to His will. And when we haven’t labored in prayer, but need to hear God’s voice?  The old saying, What would Jesus do?” can help us make our decision.

We must not put up resistance to the will of God.  We must not tell Him how He should shape our lives.  He is the Potter, we are the clay.  With sincerity of heart, as slaves of Christ, we must do His will.  When faced with our enemies, (who are really enemies of the cross), God’s will involve suffering.  There is no escaping that fact; all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  So, if we are going to suffer, let it be according to the will of God for doing what is RIGHT.  For such is the will of God that by doing what is right, we may silence the ignorance of our enemies.   Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator who will give grace to the humble.

To do the will of God we must be careful how we walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of our time, for the days we live in are evil.  It is much more comfortable to watch T.V., read the newspaper, play golf or tennis, go mall shopping all the time, attend concerts, go to church, and blah, blah, blah.  Are you making the most of your time?  God’s will is that you possess your life in sanctification and honor. 

 

Sanctification means:

 

     SANCTIFICATION  hagiasmos ^38^, "sanctification," is used of (a) separation to God, <1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Thes. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2>; (b) the course of life befitting those so separated, <1 Thes. 4:3,4, 7; Rom. 6:19,22; 1 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 12:14>.# "Sanctification is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ, <Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 6:11>, and to which their sole title is the death of Christ, <Eph. 5:25,26; Col. 1:22; Heb. 10:10,29; 13:12>.(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)  (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)        

 

     In order to love your enemies with the love God requires, your entire life must be separated to God, with a course of life befitting of those who are separated.  If you live a life that is wasted on selfish things, rather than a continual devotion to being a servant of others, you are living a life of lustful passions that is no different than the unbeliever.

 

     I am not saying that a believer cannot enjoy times of rest and recreation, but it should only be because you need rest from the hours of time you have devoted each week reaching out to others with the good news of Jesus Christ.  I’m not talking about someone who always is out preaching, but doing the simple acts of kindness that are good works of a lifestyle which glorifies your Father in heaven.  To live a lifestyle that disciples others for Christ requires a commitment of separation from the things that “you” want, and doing the things that “God” wants you to do.  Most people who read this study and merely enjoy it, rather than identify with it will suffer in the flesh if they are convicted enough to change their lifestyle from selfish idolatry to serving others.  But remember the Scripture, “... he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

 

 

6. LOVE “IS NOT PROVOKED, DOES NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT A WRONG     SUFFERED

To more fully understand this portion of Scripture the Amplified Bible translation will assist in research and application of the principles that apply when loving our enemies:

     “Love...it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it-pays no attention to a suffered wrong” Amplified Bible

There are two main points made here that are of significant importance when learning to love our enemies.  The first point has to deal with our response to abuse.  The second point is forgiving the person(s) who have hurt you.  The response to unjust treatment has more to do with our emotions and feelings.  The forgiveness deals with our mental attitude. 

     Prov 29:22-23   An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.  A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.  (NAS)

 

     Eccl 7:8-9   The end of a matter is better than its beginning; patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.  Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.  (NAS)

 

     Eph 4:26-27   Be angry, and {yet} do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.  (NAS)

 

     Prov 16:32   He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.  (NAS)

 

It is easy to become upset and angry when someone treats you unjustly.  Anger is a secondary response to the hurt, the injustice etc..  As the anger builds however, it stirs up strife and causes you to “abound in transgression.”

 

Our first response to the initial anger we feel should be to pray for the ones that have caused us harm.  This may be difficult to do, depending on the severity of your situation.  The reason for praying for your enemies first, however, is to take your mind and emotions off of focusing on how badly you were treated.  I’m not saying to forget what your enemy has done to you, but you must begin to pray for them in order that the anger in you does not build up into a “hot temper” (some call this “rage”).  Praying for your enemies is not a one time ting you do, and then everything is better.  Realistically speaking, your mind will tend to dwell on how rotten you were treated, and what a terrible person your enemy is.  This is natural and normal, but it is not God’s way.  Ongoing, daily prayer for your enemies will help to heal the wounds, and will allow God to build His love for them in your heart.

 

To be “slow to anger” is most difficult.  Anger by itself is not a sin, otherwise the Scripture would not say, “Be angry and yet do not sin.”  The verse concludes by saying, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil an opportunity.  To be able to “not sin” requires God’s help, therefore we must call upon His name.  You may have to call out to Him several times a day, depending on your ability to “rule your spirit.”  But always include in your requests to God forgiveness for your enemies and that he may bless them with salvation through Jesus Christ.  If we let the sun go down on our anger, that is, if we don’t deal with the situation when it occurs, we will give the devil an opportunity to work his evil thoughts and bitter feelings in us.  If this happens, we will become more and more resentful towards our enemies, and loving them will be next to impossible.

 

     Prov 24:19-20   Do not fret because of evildoers, or be envious of the wicked;  For there will be no future for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.  (NAS)

 

     Ps 37:1-8   Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers.  For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb.  Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.  And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.  Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret, {it leads} only to evildoing. (NAS)

 

     Prov 29:11   A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.  (NAS)

 

     Prov 14:10, 12   The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.There is a way {which seems} right to a man, but its end is the way of death.  (NAS)

 

     Eph 4:31-5:2   Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.  (NAS)

 

     Heb 12:14-15  Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. (NAS)

 

If bitterness, wrath, and anger have caused you to have malice towards your enemies, slandering them with your sharp tongue, it is essential to repent.  In this case repentance means to put away these ungodly attitudes from your mind, and to pray for the one(s) who have wronged you.  However, if you stop here, the devil will come back at a more opportune season and fill your mind with memories of how you were unjustly treated.

Then a “root of bitterness” will “spring up,” cause trouble, and defile you.

 

We must seek to be imitators of Christ, being kind, tender hearted, forgiving our enemies as Christ has forgiven us.  This is the maturing process we will go through as we have forgiven our enemy, having put away the malice towards them.  Old habits are hard to break, and it may take weeks, months or years, but we must strive to be like our Master.  Your heart is the only one that truly knows the bitterness in it.  You may say, ”It’s too hard to love them.  If only people understood how hurtfully they treated me.”  You are right, nobody truly understands the bitterness of heart, except you and your Father in heaven.  Jesus understands as well, for He, “... was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  (Isa 53:3)

 

As believers in Jesus, you will always have enemies in your life.  So make up your mind to commit all your ways to the Lord, then trust in Him and do good.  As far as it depends upon you, pursue peace with all men, including those who wrongfully treat you.  There is a fleshly way that seems right to man, but the ends of those ways are death.  Don’t fret and worry because of evildoers, this will only cause you to foolishly lose your temper.  A wise man holds his anger back, seeks then to delight himself in the Lord.  This is what is meant in 1 Corinthians 13,  “...LOVE IS NOT PROVKED”.

 

     Rom 12:17-21   Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath {of God,} for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.  "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head."  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NAS)

 

     Matt 6:12   “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  (NAS)

 

     Matt 6:14-15   “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”  (NAS)

 

     Luke 17:4-5   “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."  And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"   (NAS)

 

     Luke 23:33-34   And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.  But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.  (NAS)

 

     Rom 13:9   For this, "You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself."  (NAS)

 

     1 Cor 16:14   Let all that you do be done in love.  (NAS)

 

     2 Cor 5:14-16    For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.  Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know {Him} {thus} no longer. (NAS)

 

     Col 3:12-14   And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.  And beyond all these things {put on} love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  (NAS)

 

     1 Pet 4:7-8   The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober {spirit} for the purpose of prayer.  Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.  (NAS)

 

     I Jn 3:18-19   Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him. (NAS)

 

The Scriptures above give us a little better picture regarding the meaning of, “LOVE DOES TAKE INTO AN ACCOUNT A WRONG SUFFERED.”   Jesus, on the cross, suffering, betrayed, despised, hated for no reason utters eternal words which should be the life-blood of every true believer, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”  Jesus did not take “into account” their transgression against Him.  Does not taking account of your enemies wrongdoing mean that your memory somehow erases it?  Not at all!  Jesus asked “His Father” to forgive them.  Jesus knew that if the people had an eternal perspective of their future, the torment that they would have to endure in the lake of fire, their attitudes and actions would be far different.  But the people were blinded by hatred and spite and jealousy.  Jesus wanted God to forgive them so they would share His glory and inheritance in the saints.  Jesus loved His enemies; not with words alone, but by His deeds.

 

We are to be imitators of Jesus, putting on a heart of compassion, bearing with one another, and forgiving anyone against whom we have a complaint.  We should not recognize anyone according to the flesh (i.e.-outward appearances and actions).  If possible, as it depends upon us, we should be at peace with all men.

 

If we don’t forgive others their transgressions, God will not forgive us.  That leaves us no option; we MUST love our enemies.  If our sins are not forgiven by God, where does that mean we will spend eternity?  We are never to pay back “evil for evil,” rather we must always recognize the vengeance belongs to the Almighty.  To do this, as stated before, we must be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.  Only by fervent prayer for our enemies can the love of Christ “control us.  Remember, LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS.  THIS SOLIDIFIES THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FORGIVING AND LOVING OUR ENEMIES.

 

We must mature past simply forgiving our enemies however.  Jesus said if our enemy is hungry, we should feed him; if he is thirsty, we should give him drink.  We are not to be overcome by the evil done against us by our enemies, but we are to overcome evil with good.  Everything we do should be done in love.  All God’s commandments are summed up by saying, ”Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

The last portion of 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 reads, ”Love...bears all things, believes all  

things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails...”  There is much more that could said on the topic of love, and loving our enemies, for God’s love and redemption are the central theme of the entire Scripture.  To begin our conclusion, once again we will refer to the Amplified Bible for more detailed information:

 

     Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything without weakening.  Love never fails-never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end.   (Amplified Bible)

 

This comprehensive rendering of the scripture speaks for itself and needs little comment from the author of this study.  The urgency of learning to love our enemies must begin now, for one day soon every true believer in Jesus shall face great persecution, betrayal by friends, family, and even our own Christian brethren.  What will our response be? 

 

     Prov 24:10  If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited. (NAS)

 

We don’t want to be found slack in the day of distress.  We want God to be our strength in the days of tribulation ahead.  There are many Bible teachers and so-called prophets in this country who want to teach things pleasant; things easy for the ears to hear.  We live in a society where people seek ease and prosperity.  The Christian church has become as guilty as the rest of the world in this unfruitful pursuit.  But whether you think calamity is coming or not, you still must love and forgive your enemies.  King David expressed his heart to the LORD God many times when being pursued by his enemies; he was a man committed to prayer; a man after God’s own heart.  And yet David was not sinless, continually recognizing his own need for love and forgiveness.

 

Here are a few of King David’s prayers for you to meditate upon when you consider the distress of being persecuted by your enemies.  You will see in David his weakness, his humanness, his need for God:

 

     Ps 25:14-21   The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant.  My eyes are continually toward the LORD, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.  Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.  The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.  Look upon my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.  Look upon my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with violent hatred.  Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in Thee.  Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for Thee.  (NAS)

 

     Ps 27:1-14    The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?  When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.  Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in {spite of} this I shall be confident.  One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to meditate in His temple.  For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.  And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me; and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.  Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me.  {When Thou didst say,} "Seek My face," my heart said to Thee, "Thy face, O LORD, I shall seek."  Do not hide Thy face from me, do not turn Thy servant away in anger; Thou hast been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!  For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me up.  Teach me Thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a level path, because of my foes.  Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.  {I would have despaired} unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.  (NAS)

 

     Ps 56:8-11   Thou hast taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Thy bottle; are {they} not in Thy book?  Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me.  In God, {whose} word I praise, in the LORD, {whose} word I praise, in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?  (NAS)

 

     Ps 143:8-10   Let me hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in Thee; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to Thee I lift up my soul.  Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in Thee.  Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God; let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground.  (NAS)

 

There are many Scriptures which tell us not to fear.  Hopefully as you have read this study, your eye has caught the many places where we are told not to fear.  It’s a scary prospect to think of loving someone who may be torturing, or worse, your family and loved ones.  But remember, the grace of God is sufficient, for in our weakness, His strength is made perfect.

 

In closing, it is comforting to know that God’s love will always be there for us.  We will not perform perfectly in our desire to be imitators of Jesus Christ.  Often, we are our own worst critics.  But let us take hold of God’s word, and begin to apply His love towards all those that have hurt us now and in the past.  Let us begin to pray for our enemies daily, asking God’s blessing to be upon them.  You will be amazed at the transformation in your life, and your love for the lost increasing.

 

     Rom 8:31, 35-37    What then shall we say to these things? If God {is} for us, who {is} against us?  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  (NAS)

 

     Matt 10:23-33    "But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish {going through} the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.  It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!  Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.  What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear {whispered} in {your} ear, proclaim upon the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And {yet} not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.  Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”  (NAS)

 

     Luke 12:4-5    “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (NAS)

 

     Prov 16:6-7, 9    By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.  When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. ...The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  (NAS)

 

 

 



 

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