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The Hardest Kind of Love

Posted on October 5, 2021

While preaching His sermon on the mount, Jesus spoke about the hardest kind of love. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy” (Matt. 5:43). The Mosaic Law said to love your neighbor, but said nothing concerning enemies. So the Pharisees took it upon themselves to add a phrase to that. But God never said to hate your enemy; in fact, God says the opposite according to Christ here. “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” (v. 44). Love your enemies? You must be joking! But He is not—He goes on to explain His reasoning, stating that God brings sunshine and rain on the just and the unjust alike (v. 45). He is equally fair to both. An unsaved man can live a relatively peaceful life (when he dies without Christ will be a different story). 


Next Jesus says this: “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” (v. 46-47). Loving those who can love back is not a big deal. Anyone can do that! But to love your enemies. . . that is something which the world does not do, and for good reason—loving someone who is opposed to you does not come naturally. The truth is, we don’t want to love them. 


I remember hearing a personal story from a pastor. He received a phone call from another pastor who was very angry over some little incident which wasn’t really a big deal (although he made a big deal out of it). He started yelling at this pastor on the phone. The pastor apologized very calmly and hung up, then he called his secretary. “I would like you to use the church card and buy the nicest pair of dress shoes you can find. Mail them to Pastor So-and-so in Washington” (I’m not using his real name). This pastor was showing great kindness to the other pastor who was very angry. He was showing kindness to his enemy (in a sense). That is what we need to do. 


And what will this do for your enemy? The wise Solomon gives the answer: “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee” (Pro. 25:21-22). In other words, you will burn away at his conscience. Before long, the door might be open for you to win him to Christ. Perhaps now Jesus’ logic makes sense. It is not easy, but be willing to love your enemies. It can be a powerful testimony to them and others. 


This is the hardest kind of love. Loving someone who is antagonistic to you might seem impossible, but consider that we were once at enmity with God. We were God’s enemies, and yet God mercifully reached out to save us. So we can do the same. The next time that person says something or does something that gets on your nerves, don’t snip back with a snide remark. Learn to calmly answer them or ignore them. And then, go a step further and get them something nice or do something for them. It could make all the difference in your relationship with them, and God will be glorified. 

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