The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Love Your Enemies"
"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" (Matthew 5:44).
No command of Scripture more reveals our utter dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ than His calling to love our enemies. Nothing in our earthly humanity can enable our ascent to this summit of God's character, which He intends to reveal in us. The Apostle John's command, "Walk, even as He walked" beckons us to love God and others as Christ loves, including His and our enemies (I John 2:6). Such a mandate must initially splash icy cold water in our faces as we realize our complete inability to fulfill the will of God in and by our own capabilities. The Lord Jesus said as much, "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Any communicator of God's truth will view a somber response in congregations to consideration of this seemingly impossible ascent unto the highest of peaks. Indeed, preaching on the cross, the resurrection, prayer, faith, righteousness, peace with God, prophecy, and even many aspects of obedience will frequently elicit smiles, nods, and Amens. Preach on loving our enemies, conversely, and the response will invariably - and rightly - still most of the Amens. Nothing in our human, earthly sensibilities provides accommodation for such a quality of character and sacrifice of our native inclinations. Honest response to "love your enemies" should and must drive us to our knees in desperation, crying with the Apostle Paul, "How to perform that which is good, I find not!" (Romans 7:18).
The Lord did not leave Paul on his knees, of course, nor will He allow us to dissolve in desperation. He rather diverts our attention from our earthly frame and tendencies to the Christ who died for us, and who now lives in us as the Life of our lives. Certainly, without Him, we could not love our enemies. Be definition, however, born again believers are not without Him. "Christ in you, the hope of glory" means we have hope for every act of obedience to God because "Christ, the power of God" declares we do not live by our paltry human means, but by His glorious Divine might (Colossians 1:27; I Corinthians 1:24). Never did He call us to love friend or foe by our own spiritual and moral capacities. He knows us far better than to waste space in the Scriptures for such an impossibility. He rather calls us to believe that the quality of His love that indwells our spirits is more than adequate to empower our human faculties and members to accomplish the seemingly impossible. "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9).
When we view any command of Scripture with the sense of personal weakness and despair, we are, interestingly, being tempted to pride. "Well, if I was more dedicated and loved the Lord more, I could do this!" No, I couldn't! Indeed, I can pray until the cattle of a thousand hills come home without the slightest bit of hope to love my enemies if I believe that I can do so by merely the provision of God's help. I need much more than that! I must have His presence, His active working within my heart, and His enabling of my hands and feet by "the power that worketh in us" (Ephesians 3:20; emphasis added). I must have Him. And I do, if I have trusted the Lord Jesus. Thus, I can do all things through Him, including loving enemies, because I have joined Paul in his "no confidence" vote regarding the flesh, but all confidence in the Spirit of the indwelling Christ. "Our sufficiency is of God" (Philippians 3:3; II Corinthians 3:5).
The One who has already died for His enemies now lives in us to empower the same beautiful quality of self sacrifice. To whom shall we look when approaching the high mountain and lofty peak of obedience to God - "love your enemies?" The writer of Hebrews answers: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). We possess no means in and of ourselves for such faithfulness, nor did God ever intend that we would. We rather set our gaze upon the One who beckons us from the peak where He already stands in victory, but who also wonderfully promises be with and within for the journey. Enemies will be loved as we ascend, with every measure of honor directed solely to the One who long ago loved His enemies, and who now leads us in the same "hope of glory."
"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."
"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
Weekly Memory Verse
I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart.