The Book of Luke, The Sermon on the Mount – Love Your Enemies – Lesson 76
Luke 6:27-30, But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. 30Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
I hope we can see in our Lord’s command to love our enemies a necessity to be without pride.
In obeying this command there cannot be any pride in the mix or love will not take place.
The command, and I emphasize command, of our Lord to love our enemies is difficult to practice but difficulty has never been a reason for disobedience of God’s word for God always supplies grace to obey His word.
Christ’s followers are commanded to do what no one else will do — we are to love our enemy.
We are to do so because God has loved us while we were His enemies.
We are to do so because God is the One who will bless us for obeying His commands.
We know from the gospels that our Lord practiced what He preached.
He loved His enemies and He showed that love by going to the cross of Calvary.
He provided, at His expense, the way of salvation for all men.
By laying down his life for his enemies He became the bridge upon which his enemies may come to God.
The precepts about loving our enemies, which our Lord has given us in verses 27-30, are based upon principles that he describes in verses 31-38.
Luke 6:31-38, And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35But 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. 36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
The first principle briefly stated and commonly described as the Golden Rule is: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
This principle is based upon a fundamental principle, that is that we tend to respond to others in kind.
Those who love us, we love.
Those who are kind to us, we are kind to.
Those who are harsh with us, we tend to be harsh with.
The “golden rule” teaches us that we should treat others in the same way that we want them to respond to us.
If we want people to be kind and courteous toward us, we must be kind and courteous toward them.
A reasonable man will follow this principle, since it serves his own best interest by being kind toward others.
Kindness shown toward others tends to be reciprocated toward us.
This is the law of reciprocation or mutual exchange.
In this law we gain in this world from what we give.
Many of the world’s relationship counselors preach this principle because it makes good sense and brings rewards in this life.
But the golden rule according to Jesus Christ is but a minimum requirement.
It is exercised with the expectation that our kindness will be returned.
It does good with the expectation that good will be done for us.
The golden rule can be followed by any self-seeking person.
Many of our acts which we would consider love done toward others may be very selfishly motivated.
We love others in order to be loved in return.
We give in order to receive.
We do good, so that good will be done to us.
We serve on the basis of expected return.
Whether or not we continue to serve and to love others may be conditioned by how they respond toward us and by how much we get back from them in return.
But the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount show us that such conclusions are not of God and are not spiritual conclusions, they are not conclusions based on faith.
Christ’s commands are that we must serve others, expecting nothing in return from them, while being confident that we will receive our reward from God.
And the beauty of this is that our reward for service based upon his word will be far beyond that which we deserve.
He rewards in accordance with His grace and His riches; far above any reward we may receive from men.
The Christian who only serves expecting to receive that which he gives will soon become discouraged and even burned out and will become angry with men and even angry with God.
Expecting return for our sacrifices and service from men is due to a wrong understanding of who we are serving.
That kind of service is based upon self-interest and self-seeking, not on the obedience of a true disciple of Christ.
The true follower of Christ is to forsake all expectations of receiving our rewards from men.
The golden rule is good but it is not good enough for the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
His commands do not stop with the Golden Rule nor does he expect his children to stop there.
He expects those to press toward the mark of the high calling of God.
The Golden Rule is not the high calling of God so Jesus Christ presses those that hear with higher principles and higher expectations.
Yes, do unto others as you would have them do unto you but what do you do when they do not do that which you would like them to do?
So He says: Do good unto others when they have done evil against you.
Jesus made it very clear that there is no virtue in living according to the same standard as others, even sinners (vv. 32-34).
We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
We are not to stay on the plane of sinners but God expects us to operate on a higher plane.
So a Christian is commanded to exceed the world’s minimum standard in the matter of loving others.
The world gladly responds in kind.
Sinners love those who love them.
But the saint must love those who hate him.
This is by far the more difficult path.
We are not only to give love for love, and good for good, we are to love our enemies, and to return good for evil.
He continues to make it hard for those who hear:
Perhaps some of the multitude started to leave saying this man is out of his mind if he expects me to love Levi or Amos.
He hasn’t met those so and so’s who have treated me so badly!
Or perhaps there was in the multitude some who cared for others with infirmities but received no gratitude for their efforts, and not only did not receive gratitude but received hateful responses from the one cared for.
What are they to do?
According to our Lord they are to continue to do good for the evil received remembering that they are serving God and God will make things right.
So Jesus Christ continues with the pressure by saying Do unto others, without looking to men for your reward.
The Golden Rule has within it, rewards.
You be kind and get kindness in return. You get a reward.
But now Jesus tells us to do unto others without looking for rewards from men.
Men do good things for others, expecting them to do for them in return.
Christians are not only to disregard what their enemy has done against them, but are also to act kindly toward others, knowing that they may not reciprocate, and may do evil to us when we have done good to them.
Sinners look to men for their reward, and they look for their rewards to come quickly.
Christ’s followers are to look to God for their reward, and that may not come until eternity.
This means, of course, that men must live by faith in order to love their enemy.
They are to live by faith that God sees and that God rewards with blessings that most likely will come later on.
Believers are always to remember whom they serve and to whom they are to look for reward.
This again reminds us that God always makes things fit within the command that the just shall live by faith.
We are to love our enemies knowing that we serve God and God will make things right.
He set this standard for his followers by saying: Do unto others as God has done unto you.
While sinners deal with others in accordance with the way they have been treated by them, God’s children are to deal with others in accordance with the way God has treated them.
Has God ever treated you like you naturally wish to treat your enemies? No!
As Christ’s followers we are to show mercy to our enemies because God has shown mercy to us.
In His mercy, God has always provided men with a way to escape the judgment of God.
This has always been by means of God’s grace, through repentance and faith which is also a gift of God.
The mercy of God is to provide the follower of Christ with the motivation to show mercy to his enemy.
Again faith is expected to be exercised.
We are to treat others as God has treated us.