“All Scripture is breathed out by God…” says Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16. Honestly, if you have ever had any doubt about this, you need to look at a passage like this:
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22).
It’s such a bizarre concept, isn’t it? This concept of loving your enemy.
This is not an idea that people could come with on their own. The best we can come up with on our own is “don’t fight back.” Don’t retaliate. But Jesus went so much farther than that, commanding us to repay evil with good:
To love our enemies.
But why? Why should we do this? Why not just seek justice (or more correctly, vengeance)?
“[S]o that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Pet. 3:16-17).
We are told to love our enemy so that they might repent and believe.
Jesus, in Matt. 5:39-42, says, “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
Again, in Matt. 5:44-48, he says, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
This is not a political statement, nor is it a mere ideological statement. It’s an issue of holiness. It’s a fruit of the gospel taking hold in a person’s life.
“Love your enemies…” It’s an impossible command without God’s intervention. Without God, in Jesus Christ, first loving His enemies, dying in our place for our sins, there is no hope of us being able to do likewise.
If this is not true, the best we can hope for is passivity in the face of adversity. Passivity fails to bring people to repentance, only complacency.
Loving our enemies is active. It’s engaging.
Ultimately, it is convicting, humbling our enemies so that they too might repent and believe.