Matthew 5: (NJKV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
- A person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.
- An armed foe; an opposing military force: The army attacked the enemy at dawn.
- A hostile nation or state.
- A citizen of such a state.
OK – On first glance, this scripture seems pretty difficult. — Then, when you look at the dictionary meaning it gets even harder!
I pondered (Ruminated) on this for a while this morning. First thought: If Jesus says to do it, then it is possible and has a very good reason.
Jesus is also apparently quoting a saying that was familiar to the Jews in his audience. He said, “You have heard…”
The saying is based on Leviticus 19: (NJKV) according to my cross references
19 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
So the saying that Jesus is quoting is not completely scriptural from the Old Testament.
Nothing in there about “enemies”… this was obviously an addition by the Scribes and/or Pharisees.
It uses the wording, “children of your people” which I take to mean other Jewish people. So this is talking about inter-nationality relationships with other Jews.
Thinking about what Jesus said in verse 44:
The issue is not about loving your friends, but instead, how you deal with those who are different, against you, or actual enemies of your country. Those who fit any of the descriptions shown in the dictionary depictions above. But why “love” someone with any of these attributes?
Let me try for an example. Say that I had a person in my life that really hurt me in some way. Maybe they stole something of value or hurt me in some other way. They seem to have harmful designs and they engage in antagonistic activities towards me. Because of this I categorized this person as an enemy. To me this person is a genuine adversary or opponent. But as I hate this person does the situation get better or worse? Actually the hate can cause the situation to escalate can’t it? Whether I am in the right or not – I get the bad deal for myself. I’m the one who stays awake at night venting and gets upset at any little issue. These activities cause me to acid indigestion, ulcers and possibly many other related physical maladies.
Above all that I am also sinning and out of my Heavenly fathers will because I am not abiding by Jesus command that I started out this post with. So things may not go well with me in the Spiritual realm either!
No Brain-er! – Love this individual.
Now I’m not going to necessarily start spending time with them of letting them into my life in a big way. Their actions and even their thoughts towards me may be harmful.
Romans 16:17 says – Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
I don’t have to put myself in harm’s way. I will merely avoid them, but I will not speak ill of them. I love them from afar, so to speak, but I must love.