“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (7/05/10): Demand #28 “Love Your Enemies – Lead Them To The Truth”

Matthew 5:44

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

Luke 6:27-28, 32-34

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you… If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 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.

John 17:17

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Today, we return to our Daily Devotions, focusing on one of the most rejected demands of Jesus:  Loving our enemies.  This demand is broken down in detail over the course of the next four chapters.

“Jesus’ demand that we love our enemies, be merciful, make peace, and forgive assumes that there are people who are hard to love. The demand is expressed in different ways because people are hard to love in different ways. Jesus calls some people our “enemies,” which means they are against us. They want to see us fail. Love them, Jesus says (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35). Others may not be our personal enemies in this way, but simply people whose character or personality or condition makes them unattractive or even repulsive. Be merciful to them, Jesus says (Matt. 5:7; 18:33; Luke 10:37). Don’t base your treatment of them on what they attract or deserve, but on mercy. Others may be our relatives or friends who have taken offense at something we have done— rightly or wrongly—and the relationship is cold or non-existent. Strive to be reconciled to them, Jesus says (Matt. 5:23-26). Others may or may not have anything against you, but you do against them. Forgive them, Jesus says (Matt. 6:14-15). Don’t let laziness or pride or anger keep you from the humble work of forgiving, peacemaking, and reconciliation (pg. 212-213).”

“Unlike so many who compromise the truth to win a following, Jesus did the opposite. Unbelief in his hearers confirmed that a deep change was needed in them, not in the truth… In other words, when the truth does not produce the response you want—when it does not “work”—you don’t abandon the truth. Jesus is not a pragmatist when it comes to loving people with the truth. You speak it, and if it does not win belief, you do not consider changing the truth. You pray that your hearers will be awakened and changed by the truth. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). “Sanctify them in the truth,” Jesus prayed; “your word is truth” (John 17:17). When Jesus prays that people be “sanctified in the truth,” he reveals the roots of love. Sanctification, or holiness, as Jesus understands it, includes being a loving person. He is praying that we would become loving people and would be merciful and peaceable and forgiving. That is all included in the prayer,  Sanctify them.” And all this happens in and by the truth, not separate from the truth. The effort to pit love against truth is like pitting fruit against root. Or like pitting kindling against fire. Or like pitting the foundation of a house against the second-floor bedroom. The house will fall down, and the marriage bed with it, if the foundation crumbles. Love lives by truth and burns by truth and stands on truth… We live in an emotionally fragile age… Love is not defined by the response of the loved. A person can be genuinely loved and feel hurt or offended or angered or retaliatory or numb without in any way diminishing the beauty and value of the act of love that hurt him… This truth is shown by the way Jesus lived his life. He loved in a way that was often not felt as love. No one I have ever known in person or in history was as blunt as Jesus in the way he dealt with people. Evidently his love was so authentic it needed few cushions… The decisive thing about our love when we stand before God is not what others thought of it, but whether it was real. That some people may not like the way we love is not decisive. Most people did not recognize Jesus’ love in the end—and still do not today. What matters is not that we are justified before men, but that God knows our hearts as truly (though not perfectly) loving. And he alone can make that final judgment (pg. 216-220).”

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on July 5, 2010 at 7:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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