Posted by: thaishin | May 20, 2009

Love your enemies or hate your enemies?

Luke 6: 27But 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. -kjv Psalms 139: 20For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. 21Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. -kjv Question: How to reconcile above 2  verses? Answer from Pastor Brian Ingalls: One of the first things to remember is that as Christians, we believe that Jesus was the Messiah, even God in the flesh.  As Christians, we try to look at the teaching of the Old Testament through the words and example of Jesus. It would be easy to read Psalms 139:20-22 by itself and conclude that the Bible here is teaching us we should hate and fight against people who don’t believe as we do.  In fact, the ancient Jews did often teach that those who weren’t part of Israel were their enemies and treated them accordingly.  In many ways they were very judgmental towards Gentiles (non-Jews) But as a Christian, we don’t look at just Psalms 139:20-22, we look closely at the verses around it, the context of those verses, and at the rest of the Bible too, especially what Christ said. That of course, is sometimes easier said than done.  But after some contemplation, here is my view of these passages: First, Luke 6 isn’t the only place in the Bible where this sermon by Jesus is included.  It’s also in Matthew.  And in the Gospel of Matthew, there is a part of the conversation that wasn’t recorded in Luke.  Just before Jesus said to love our enemies, Matthew records that Jesus said this first: “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,” -Matthew 5:43-44 In fact, Matthew records a lot more of this “sermon” by Jesus than Luke does. And that particular sentence sheds quite a bit of light on things.  Jesus quoted a phrase the Jews were familiar with “love your neighbor and hate your enemy”- and for the Jews of that time, your “neighbor” was a fellow Israelite and a fellow believer in God.  Anyone else, you could “hate.”  That sort of hate, motivated simply by nationality and religious beliefs, Jesus contradicted. And David didn’t hate people just because of what nationality they were, or what they believed or didn’t believe.  But we’ll get to that in a second… Instead of “hate” Jesus said to “love” which literally means in a moral sense or duty.  In other words, put them ahead of yourself.  And you know, even when you don’t like someone, you can put their needs ahead of your own.  Even if you hate them, you can sacrifice for them.  You might not like it, but you can do it.  That’s Christian love in fact.  Same kind of love Jesus demonstrated when he sacrificed himself for the sins of the whole world.  It’s a love of actions, not feelings or words. And that’s part of the answer I think.  In Psalms 139, David is writing from his deep feelings.  He even says “am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?”   David was grieved because of the wickedness of the enemies of God.  Since they were God’s enemies, David counted them as his enemies because David was on God’s side.  But listen to this verse:   For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! -Romans 5:10 This verse says we were at one time God’s enemies.  Yet even though we were enemies of God, He still sent His only Son to die for us and reconcile us to Himself.  Even though God hates sin, and hates wickedness, and will someday judge the earth with justice and wrath, God still loved us by putting our needs first -sacrificing Himself for us on the cross. So what Jesus said is true, God wants us to do practice a love of actions (that’s what the word means) praying for our enemies, doing good to those who persecute us. That’s what Jesus did for sinners, even though God hates sin.  Even though sin grieves Him.  But Jesus was not saying we must always “feel” love, nor was Jesus saying we must always approve of what others are doing.  God is a God of love (a sacrificial love of putting another first) yes, but He is also a God of justice and righteousness too.  God hates sin. And for those people who choose to be enemies of God, they will someday face his wrath if they don’t repent. So what David said was true for him as far as his feelings went, and admirable in that David so strongly held to God’s standard of righteousness.  David’s hate was directed at those people because they had already set themselves up as enemies of God.  What David was explaining here was that he was completely committed to being on God’s side. He wrote down how he truly felt because David had a passion for God and a hatred of sin. But even though David was “grieved” and felt hatred, that wouldn’t have stopped him from  “loving” his enemies with his actions -given the chance.  Despite his feelings, I’m sure David was more than willing to sacrifice for those same enemies if God gave him the opportunity. I say that because, in his life, David often showed mercy and grace to his enemies when he had the chance. So in the end, I think David was speaking of his feelings and explaining the depth of his commitment toward God, (after all those Psalms are very personal things and speak from deep emotion many times) while Jesus was teaching us to love with actions no matter our feelings may be.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing, I learnt alot

  2. you are welcome Lissa

  3. just the other day, I learnt about the word “frenemy”…

    but then again: there’s no such thing as a true enemy but only a true friend…

  4. But sometimes, people attack you even if you don’t want to get involved. Thinking of them as enemies helps to ventilate. They are not likable and as a christian, I should try to put their interests before mine even if I don’t like them.

  5. It’s easy to say “love your enemy” but not easy to do it. Sometimes we can’t even get our judgemental attitude out of our minds, lack alone love our enemies. But the bible says “Don’t judge others, les you’ll be judged”…. i forget which verse is that.

  6. Agreed that it is not easy to put into action “love your enemy”. But, at least as christians we should give it a try.


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