In an earlier article, which was published here on the “Ring Out the Message” website, I elaborated on the fact that faithful Christians will have enemies. The Bible makes this point completely clear as I showed in that earlier article. The Bible is also clear that we should still treat them well. I believe that a major visible characteristic of a true child of God is his relationship with his enemies. The children of this world, who engage in sinful acts with no repentance in their hearts, are those who find it easy to treat their friends good, but very hard to treat their enemies good.
In Matthew 5:43-47, Jesus teaches, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 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 despite-fully 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?” Now, keep in mind that the Old Law did not teach for the Israelites to hate their enemies as human beings, but rather to hate their sins. Leviticus 19:18 says, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.”
Verse 34 goes on to say, “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
They had been taught to hate their enemies, but this is not what God actually wanted them to do. This is not what the Old Testament said to do. Jesus emphasizes in Matthew 5 that love should be extended not just to those near to them, but unto all, including their enemies. “Love” in this sense means to seek the highest good and welfare of others. Since our Heavenly Father does good to all, we should also. Since He loves all, we should also. The tax collectors in the First Century loved those who loved them. Are we any better than them? I sure hope so. We must love, even those who curse us and do wrong to us. We ought to greet all, even those who hate us.
If we do not treat our enemies in a good way, then we really hate them, and the Bible teaches that if we hate, then we are murderers. I John 3:15 says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” Let us therefore be like unto God, and let us love all!
-Jason Gann, TBC Online Instructor