The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Love Your Enemies"
The quality of God's love, and of His love manifested in us, best shines forth not in how we treat our friends, but rather our enemies.
"For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 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 5:7-10).
The Lord Jesus Christ taught that a complete love consists in love toward our enemies, as God loves His:
"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; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 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? Be ye therefore perfect (complete), even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (complete)" (Matthew 5:44-48).
A love that loves only friends does not meet the measure of God's love. As Paul declared, the Savior died for His enemies, which included all of us before we trusted Him for salvation. Thus, we find ourselves faced with the command to "love… bless… do good… and pray for those who despitefully use you." This presents an impossibility in human terms. No inherent love for enemies exists outside the heart of the living God of Scripture. Thankfully, our Heavenly Father does not call us to love our enemies by our own completely inadequate resources.
"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (I John 4:9).
"Be ye strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).
"Without Me ye can do nothing… I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13).
The Christ who died for His enemies now lives in us, leading and enabling us to put to death our own natural inclinations regarding both friend and foe. Indeed, we possess no more ability to love our loved ones according to the quality of God's standard than we do those who would seek our harm. Certainly, we are far more aware of our weakness regarding love when considering enemies. However, we must trust in our Lord's presence and involvement to love family, friend, and colleague, just as we trust in the same Divine aid in loving our enemies. And let us be honest: there are certainly times when our loved ones feel like enemies. Because they mean so much to us, family members and friends can wound us more deeply than the fiercest foe. They often wield the sharpest sword, thus revealing how much we seek the grace of God in loving all.
What does it mean to love our enemies? A lifetime will be required to learn and apply the Biblical answer. Presently, however, let us affirm that compassion does not mean compromise. While always gentle in attitude, sometimes the love of God must lead us to stand strong for truth, even as our hearts remain tender and humble before God and people. We must speak and act according to that which is best for those whom we love, which involves both tenderness and firmness.
"The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (II Timothy 2:24-25).
This high calling, again, only possible by the leading and enabling of the Holy Spirit, reveals the reason the Lord Jesus called us to pray for our enemies. Only thereby can our hearts abide in God's loving devotion to the glory of His Son, and the benefit of both friend and foe. "The Lord is good to all, and His tendermercies are over all His works… Let us do good unto all men" (Psalm 145:9; Galatians 6:10). Thus, we do well to seek greater knowledge of the quality of God's love, as revealed in the light of His Word, and as revealed in our hearts by the life of the Christ who died for us "when we were enemies."
"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment, that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ."
Weekly Memory Verse
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him.