Love Your Enemies • Devotion 2

Speaking Well of Others
Pastor Chuck Lindsey

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV

Man, I love people who love me. It is so easy. It is so natural. It feels effortless to respond lovingly to the love, kindness, and affection someone shows to me. This, however, is not the way it goes for those that hate me, those that lie about me, or those that want harm to come to me or my family. In this little section of Jesus’ sermon, we are told (in the simplest of terms) to love people who cannot stand us. It is a shocking passage that goes against every natural “way” in us.

Jesus begins by telling us to “bless” those who “curse” us. In the Greek language, it is a play on words. Let me explain. The word “bless” (Greek - Eulogeo) means to “speak well of” and the word “curse” (Greek - Kataraomai) means to “speak evil of.” So the command from our Savior is to “be speaking well of those who are speaking evil of you.” Say nice things about those who are not saying nice things about you. Notice that it is not just, “Don’t malign those who are maligning you.” It is going further than that. It is, “Say good things about those who are cursing you.”

Do you know what I want to do in this situation? I want to defend myself. I want to defame the other person. I want to set the record straight. Like a tennis match, I want to return the serve with as much power as I can. I want to publicly and privately malign the person that is cursing me. I am told, by my Savior, never to do it. Man, this is tough!

It does not get any easier as He goes on to tell us to not just say nice things but also to “do good” (Greek - Kalos means to treat well) to those who “are not treating you well.” Please notice that all of these are active commands. That means we are to be actively doing what is good to those who are actively mistreating us (i.e. cursing us and hating us). So again, this is not just forgetting about that person and moving on. It is actively doing good to those who are trying to do harm.

Again, what do I want to do in this situation? At the very least, I want to shut up my heart towards them, cut them out of my life, ignore them, and move on. I certainly do not want to do good things for them or to them. I certainly do not want to see good come to them. I want to see justice! Again, everything Jesus says here goes against the natural man.

He does not stop there. He goes impossibly further and tells us to do something that is so real, personal, private, and intimate. It is something that cannot be faked. It is something that is really hard to do when our hearts are hurt or angry. He tells us to take time to open our hearts and pray to Him for them. We are to be vulnerable and to pray for those who are spitefully (Greek - Epereazo means “to mistreat, insult, threaten”) treating us this way.

He wants me to pray for them? Am I supposed to pray judgment on them? I can get behind that! No! That is not the tenor of the command. His command to us has the backdrop of His own prayer from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34, NKJV). He tells us to follow His example and pray. Sure, pray for their eyes to be opened and things to stop, but also for their blessing and His work in their lives. He even goes so far as to say that we are to do this for those who are “coming after us.” That is what the word “persecute” (Greek - Dioko) means there at the end of verse 44.

Now, all of this would be easy to accept if we never had anyone who hated us. However, as soon as we do, the “rubber hits the road” as it were. What He wants us to do comes into direct conflict with what we want to do. It leaves us asking a question, “Why would I choose to do these things?”

The answer is given in verse 45 with the words, “That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” In other words, we choose to do what He wants, to be kind, to speak well of, and to pray for our enemies because He was kind to us, spoke well of us, kind words to us, did good to us, and prayed for us all while we hated Him. For “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV).

“We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NKJV)






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