“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 are abusive to you.”
Political memes and blogs litter social media. Rage and malice fuel perpetual debates. A spirit of contempt is all around, and it has infected countless millions. Hate has become the true pandemic of our time. In our contemporary environment, it’s even commonplace for professing Christians to publicly express hatred for select politicians and adversaries.
While Christians must stand for God and His ways, we are to do so in a manner that reflects our calling. God desires that we embrace a loving disposition when our values and way of life are threatened. When persecution comes, the enemy should know true followers by our expressed love. Our temperament is to be counter to the culture.
As such, Jesus commands all followers to love enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). The Lord’s requirement for the faithful is in direct opposition to human pride. In humility, we must always understand that we have received God’s undeserved mercy (Romans 5:6-8). Messiah reminds us that everyone currently enjoys God’s common grace.
He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil in this world (Luke 6:35-36).
Likewise, our love should demonstrate sorrow for those who do not know Christ. We should pray for their salvation.
As Jesus was dying on the cross, He expressed pity for the spiritually blind who facilitated His execution (Luke 23:34). This kind of remarkable love is accessible through the Holy Spirit today. It enables us to generate authentic concern for the lost. Love generated by God does not bow to evil, but it points to the hope of Jesus. It does not mock, and it does not give way to fear. Godly love is the opposite of sinful human response and actions (1 John 4:15-19).
If we consume enough social malice and political propaganda, any of us can be pulled into the darkness of hate. Exposure to constant hostility can have negative impacts on the most sincere Spirit-filled saints. If you find yourself bothered by the daily infusion of hate media, take radical action. Delete it, and get it out of your life. Reach for the love of Christ instead, and find love for would-be persecutors.
Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all offenses.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
“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, so that you may prove yourselves to 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 do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Even the Gentiles, do they not do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
“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 people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. 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; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
1 Peter 3:9
...not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you would inherit a blessing.
1 John 4:15-19
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.