But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
Normally when we hear the word “love”, we tend to think in an emotional sense, especially when it is used around Valentine’s Day. The emphasis during this special day is on ROMANTIC LOVE.” Studies have shown that this type of love between a husband and a wife lasts at the most one year. This is because the brain cannot eternally maintain a revved up state of romantic bliss. If a couple does not establish genuine love by this time, a great many marriages are in trouble.
Most of us are acquainted with God’s command to love. Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Matthew 22:37-39). This is not a command related to romance, and God expects us to obey it.
Love is an act of the will and not necessarily an emotion. That being true, we can indeed love our enemies. There was a time when we were God’s enemies. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:10). We all know John 3:16 — For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son… When we were unloving and when we did not want His interference in our lives He loved us.
In Matthew 5:44, Jesus described our enemies as those who curse us, hate us and despitefully use us. At the same time, He commanded us to bless them, do good to them and to pray for them. That is the way we manifest His love toward others and when we obey this command, we find it much easier to love them.
Yes, there are other forms of love — Friendship Love is to desire blessing and good to be in the lives of the objects of this love. Parental Love involves a genuine love for children and grandchildren that expresses their importance to us. This kind of love can be deeply profound.
As God loves the world (John 3:16), so must we in the sense of desiring the highest good in everyone’s life. John Calvin referred to this as “common grace,” the gracious favor bestowed commonly on all people without distinction.
It would be good for us to recognize that God would have been just to condemn all of us. Instead, by sending his Son to die on Calvary’s tree, He shows repeated and prolonged favor and love on everyone.
When we recognize this, it is illogical that we would ever show anything but love to others, regardless of what they might have done to us or how wicked they might be. We can indeed love our enemies and in so doing, we may just love some of them to Christ.
I read a note from a scientific study that said that men who kiss their wives every morning on the average live five years longer than those that do not. It might be good to say the three magic words often — I LOVE YOU — to our spouses for certain, but we ought to say it to others as well. If you cannot say it, perhaps there needs to be some inner contemplation as to your true relationship with the LORD. If you really love someone, you will find yourself doing right towards them. Do you truly love the LORD?
George Stiekes held successful pastorates in churches in Michigan and Washington among other places. He currently resides in North Carolina and blogs at Reverent Reflections. We recommend his ministry and republish his material by permission.