John T. Willis

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Your Enemies--Luke 6:27-36

After declaring for beatitudes or blessings in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:20-26, Jesus teaches his disciples (see 6:20): "Love your enemies." This is similar to Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:33-48. At the same time, there are significant differences, because Luke is addressing a different audience. This paragraph falls into two sections.

I. Love Your Enemies by ACTIVELY treating them in a loving way. Luke 6:27-31.
a. Jesus begins by inviting his audience to LISTEN--not merely hear the words, but pay careful attention to what Jesus intends to communicate. 6:27a.
b. Then Jesus states EIGHT specific ways in which a follower of God through Jesus Christ is to love one's enemies. 6:27b-31.
1. Do good--ACTIVELY go out of your way to actually do good things for those who hate you.
2. Bless--figure out ways to bless the lives of those who curse you.
3. Pray--Turn to God our Father to deal with your enemies. Do not take this matter into your own hands. Let God take care of the situation when people abuse you. On these last two ideas, see Romans 12:14.
4. Turn the other cheek any time someone strikes you on the cheek. The natural response is to hit the other person in response. Do not do that. Turn the other cheek.
5. Give your shirt off your back if anyone forcefully takes away your outer garment. Do more than the enemy does in a positive way.
6. Freely give your possessions of anyone approaches you and begs for anything.
7. Never demand that someone steals something from you to get it back. Instead, be content with everything God has already given you.
8. Put yourself in your own situation. Then do to others as you would like for them to do for you.
What a positive, disconcerting approach to life with respect to other people!!! This always works.

II. Love Your Enemies because Loving those who love you is what all people do. Luke 6:32-36.
a. Jesus says: There is no credit at all to one who loves those who love you. Sinner do that. This is pure reciprocity, and thus is self-centered, not God-centered, not Christ-centered. 6:32-33.
b. Non-Christians praise others to get their own praise, give money to others to receive money in response. The ONLY attitude that is God-centered is to do good to others without expecting any reward at all in return. All of us human beings do not feel this way. This is why we must learn to become Christ-centered people. 6:34-35a.
c. The reward to feeling and living non-self-centered is to be children of God. Gos our Father/Mother sets the example for his/her children: he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. God is merciful, so be merciful to follow God's example.

As one reflects on this very important teaching of Jesus Christ, three connected truths are imperative. Said very briefly:

1. The teaching "Love Your Enemies" is not a NEW teaching of Jesus. The Hebrew Bible is full of texts which teach the same thing. Jesus is reinforcing this important truth. As only a few examples, read: Exodus 23:4-5; 1 Samuel 24:17; Proverbs
24:28-29; Proverbs 25:21-22 [which Paul quotes in Romans 12:17-21].

2. Loving one's enemies does NOT mean that one is to stand by and support the sinful practices of evil people. As just one example, Paul presents a lengthy list of sins of ungodly people, then concludes by saying: "They know God's decree, that those who PRACTICE such things deserve to die--yet they not only DO them but even APPLAUD others who PRACTICE them." Jesus was not wrong when he drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves--Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-25. This is the VERY SAME JESUS who told his disciples: "Love your enemies."

3. The entire Bible teaches that God's followers, God's disciples are to abstain from treating their enemies in the same manner that their enemies treat them. Instead, they are to go to God in prayer to ask God to treat their enemies in the way God chooses. God supports godly people, and defeats ungodly people. See 2 Samuel 16:5-14; Psalms 58:3-11; 69:19-36; 139:19-22; Romans 12:19-21; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Galatians 1:6-10.

Share YOUR insights and thoughts and experiences and feelings with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis