Love Your Enemies – Matthew 5:44

Love your enemies - Matthew 5:44
Love Your Enemies - Matthew 5:44

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

Forgive Them

Today we discuss one of the most challenging passages in the whole sermon on the mount. It is not difficult to understand, but it is very hard to practice and obey. A young missionary felt the call of God for a country thriving on war and chaos. However, he knew the importance of obedience. Therefore, he took his newly married wife and off they went into the mission field. By the time they were settled, the civil war had not yet started. Armed with their faith and the call over their life, they decided to put up schools and establish churches. Five years later, the brother, the wife and their four-year-old son were looking for a way to escape the country since the civil war had broken out.

On the way to a safe house near the harbour, the dissidents got hold of them and murdered their son right before their very eyes. The locals involved in the act included some young people they had preached to. In the heat of the chaos, God’s small still voice still said, “Forgive and love them, for the work I sent you to do here is just beginning.” This is the point where many believers would leave the work and desert the field. Love your enemies is a radical command. How are you supposed to love your enemies in such a situation?

Paul, The Enemy

The first thing to remember is that the term “enemy” refers to a temporary position. The people persecuting the missionary’s family in the story were friends a short time prior. Hatred of others is a tool used to fuel and build unity based on bitterness and the sins of others. Jesus asks us to forgive just like He forgave those who crucified Him. Paul was among those who killed deacon Stephen (Acts 8:1), and later, through God’s grace, the same man was used by the Lord to reach the known world.

Pray For Your Persecutors

The second thing is we must realize that we, too, were at one time enemies of God (James 4:4). Yet the truth proclaimed in the whole of scripture and personified in the person of our Lord Jesus is that; God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Then our final realization is that we love our enemies to please the God that loved us. Continuing to hate, resent, and hold a grudge against another person is remaining on the cross. There is no transformation from such doings. We must not remain on the cross of unforgiveness. Jesus commands us not only to love them but also to pray for our enemies.

Some of us enjoy the idea of praying against our enemies more than for them. The scripture reminds us that if we speak with the tongues of angels and have no love, we sound more like the creaking of a rusty gate (1 Corinthians 13:1). God will help us to love our enemies and trust Him to avenge our bitterness.

King James Version (KJV)

“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;”

New International Version (NIV)

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

New American Bible (NASB)

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

English Standard Version (ESV)

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

The Living Bible (TLB)

“But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”