It is important when considering LOVE as the Mark of a Man or Woman of God to remember that “it is not a mushy feeling or sentimental emotion.” This is especially critical when considering the third aspect of this agape (uh-gop-ae) love which is offered to an enemy. Loving one’s enemy is not easy! Sometimes it means giving up our “rights,” sometimes it means giving Tough Love. But it is the only way to change an enemy into a friend. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” MLKing, Jr.
As we have described in the previous blogs, it is clear that we should love our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. This simply means considering our Heavenly Father in every decision in life, and talking with Him about everything and including Him in the processes.
Loving our families or spiritual brothers and sisters really should not be too much of a problem, assuming this is a mutual love in a family, and that our brothers and sisters accept many of the same precepts by which we live. There will be differences and arguments, but we have a foundation of faith that we share that becomes the bedrock for building our relationships in love.
But what of the enemy we are commanded to love? Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:43-44 bears repeating, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you!” Does He expect us to allow an enemy to harm us, take advantage of us, even kill us?
There are some practical considerations to loving one’s enemy that must be considered or we can actually wind up disobeying other commands Jesus gave, such as Matthew 7:6, “Do not give that which is sacred to dogs; do not throw your pearls to pigs.”
There is so much on this topic that it certainly cannot be fully covered in a 1000 word blog, so I encourage you to use this blog as a prayer stimulus, to ask Father for wisdom and clarity on how to love your enemies, but we cannot ignore this clear command of Jesus and claim to be loving the Anointed One (John 14:15-24; 15:10).
I offer two scenarios for consideration: 1) when you are the target of an enemy, 2) when someone for whom you are responsible is the target. Again, in real time and circumstances, these situations will call for more wisdom than can be gleaned from a brief blog.
1) When Jim Elliott and Nate Saint flew their tiny plane to visit the Auca Indians in South America, this fierce cannibalistic tribe was to be feared, so they carried long rifles. But as they left, Nate’s son asked if they would kill the Indians if attacked. Nate’s answer was profound: “If they kill us, we will go to Heaven, but if we shoot them, they will go to hell.” He explained they were carrying the rifles only to scare the Indians if attacked. It did not work. Jim and Nate and their coworkers were murdered by the Indians, but the long story of it is that almost all the Indians came to accept the Gospel because of their heroic actions and unwillingness to dispatch their enemies to hell!
2) However, in Paul’s description of agape love, he says it “does not delight in evil . . . , always protects . . .”. In Esther we see this in the lives of the Jewish people who had been targeted for genocide by an enemy, but in an ironic twist of “fate” the Jews were provided an opportunity to defend themselves against those who would attack them. Note, it was not a carte blanch permission to kill their enemies, but to defend themselves if attacked, that is to protect their families from their enemies (Esther 8:11).
For further consideration, let me encourage you to read some Scripture pertinent to loving one’s enemies. From Exodus 23:4, the Jews were instructed to treat an enemy’s possessions the same way they would treat a brother’s; Job 31:29 suggests it is sinful to rejoice over an enemy’s misfortune or to say bad things against him; David spared his enemy’s life, not once, but on two occasions when he could have killed him and claimed it was the LORD’s provision (I Sam 24:10-19; 26:8-21).
On the other hand, Jesus, the epitome of LOVE, made a whip of cords and overturned business tables in the Temple! Was he hateful or was it Tough Love? (John 2:13-22); Paul warned not to have fellowship with pagans (I Corinthians 10:20-21) and to have nothing to do with enemies of his message (Ephesians 5:11; II Timothy 3:5).
Finally, remember, as Lane Martin said, “Nothing happens to a Christ-follower; filtered by His love, it only happen for us.” Your enemy has no power except what the Creator has allowed (Luke 10:19) and the issue is never on whose side God is, but rather on whose side are you? (Joshua 5:13-14).
You were once an enemy of God, but now He has made peace with God possible by His love (Colossians 1:21-23). So “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18) and remember Proverbs 16:7: “When the LORD takes pleasure in anyone’s way, He causes their enemies to make peace with them.” Ezekiel gives us the last word on the Creator’s attitude toward His (and our) enemies: “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23).
Love the Creator, Love your family, Love your friends, and LOVE your enemies. Let your life be Marked by LOVE.