27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.Luke 6:27-36
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 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 is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
If You Are Not With Me Then You Are My Enemy.
Continuing His sermon, Jesus moves from the theme of two contrasting people groups into the theme of loving all people. The binary description of people by Jesus may surprise and offend modern readers. However, Jesus often categorizes people as sheep or goats, wheat or chaff, children of Abraham or children of the devil. In Luke 6, Jesus describes these two groups in terms of blessing and cursing. Those who follow Jesus and live for the glory of His name will be blessed. Those who reject and hate Jesus’ good name will be damned. Admittedly, this dichotomy is unsettling. There is a natural danger that Jesus’ followers need to avoid, and that danger seems to be the motivating reason for Jesus’ transition into “love your enemies.”
Self-righteousness is a natural danger for all people, and it is especially appalling in Christian people. There is a good reason for this. Jesus lived righteously without repelling people through silent or blatant judgment. Did Jesus judge? Yes. He judged all the time, but He never repelled sinners through His judgment but instead compelled them to repent. He never repelled people through arrogance. Jesus was opposed continuously but never repelled people through hatred. Jesus is the perfect example of a person loving their enemies. So, when a Christian begins to judge people harshly, speak arrogantly, and express vitriol, they are apparent hypocrites. All Christians must be self-aware and cautiously avoid hypocrisy as much as possible. We ought to be perfect but aren’t. However, if we are following Christ’s instructions, we are indeed in pursuit. Being a Christian is a pilgrimage in at least two ways. First, we are moving away from immorality into sanctification. Second, we are moving toward glory.
Love My Enemies
Jesus’ basic instructions in this passage are “love your enemies” and “be merciful.” Jesus is teaching us not to assume the position of judge. There are only two categories of people, God’s people and not God’s people. We crave to know that we are part of the “Blessed” to live confidently at peace with God, but we must be careful not to judge harshly those around us who are indifferent or antagonistic toward Christ. Is that easy to do? No. Jesus’ instructions are contrary to our sinful nature. Naturally, we prefer the feeling of superiority over our “enemies,” but Jesus robs the Christian of that natural desire. We have no right to feel superior because our only boast is in the cross of Christ (Gal 6:14). We are not superior, but we are changed by God’s work and not our moral betterment. We are sinners saved by grace.
When Jesus used the phrase “your enemies,” we should interpret this command for us to love His enemies. The reason I suggest this distinction is not because I imagine Jesus’ words to be wrong. Far be it from me to try and correct the Son of God. May it never be so. However, when our Lord teaches us to love our enemies, the people he calls our attention to are hating, cursing, and abusing us for the sake of Jesus’ name. Therefore, Jesus’ enemies are rightly called our enemies. They hate us because their true enemy is Christ. For example, when a self-proclaimed Christian denounces the faith and writes a book about their apostasy, the culture celebrates that foolish person. Why? Because this wicked culture is more properly the enemy of Christ than the enemy of you, Christian. You and I might receive hate, cursing, and abuse from the mouth or hand of our culture. We are enemies to the world, but not because we hate the world, but because the world hates Christ. Our culture is in direct opposition to Christ, and therefore any and all who love and follow Him will be the recipients of their hatred.
How should we respond? We must not respond in kind. Our Lord’s command is clear, “Love your enemies.” We should not love our enemy’s worldview. We should not love our enemy’s subjective morality. We should not love our enemy’s ever-changing vocabulary. Yet, we are commanded to love them. So then, what does loving my enemy look like? Let me suggest that loving your enemies looks something like Jesus praying for His murderers, “Father forgive them.” Loving your enemy looks like Peter, who refuses to stop preaching Jesus despite threats and beatings. Loving your enemies looks like Paul as he begged King Agrippa to believe. Loving your enemy isn’t playing nice. Loving your enemy is rightly identifying them as an enemy of Christ and doing battle with their worldview, morality, and vocabulary by preaching the gospel with clarity. Love your enemies Chruch, like your Saviour who loved you and gave Himself for you while you were yet sinners.