Why Do I have to Love my Enemy

Grace and Peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Today's hard question is: "Why do I have to love my enemies?"

As a pastor, this is the one question we have to ask ourselves most often. Why do I have to love my enemies. But, before we get to answering this hard question, we have to agree on what an enemy is. For the purpose of this message an enemy is anyone who has taken a personal interest in harming or causing hardship to another person. An enemy can do this by committing knowingly hurtful acts or by refusing or withholding actions which will lead to the harm of another.

An enemy says whenever I have an opportunity to do something that will hurt or bring hardship to this person, I will do it. The enemy can also say that I will refuse to do anything that I know will prevent harm from coming to this other person. An enemy is personally involved in harming another person.

As a pastor, I see this most often in that curse upon the American family called divorce. Because of the hurt of divorce, I have seen otherwise nice law abiding people become almost possessed with causing hardship and harm to their estranged spouse. They will refuse to cooperate concerning the care and custody of their children, tell vicious lies, destroy property, break the law, quit their jobs, and run away in order to hurt the other. What were once romantic lovers and caring parents have turned in to mortal enemies, personally dedicated to creating as much trouble and pain as they can for the other. Sometimes I think it is a form of insanity.

Now the best example of an enemy, that sticks in my mind is regretfully myself, because of something I did in my years before I met Jesus Christ as my savior. I had come to Macon Georgia from Oklahoma City to start a new job developing a formal training program for an automotive company with many stores throughout the south. After I developed the program, I had to have it published. The company president directed me to work with the advertising department to produce the material.

The head of the department was a very ambitions, young, and fashionable lady who was part of the "nightclub" crowd. She would have little to do with this, fresh out of school, "okie," who was trying to make a good first impression with the company president.

She just never did give me the help I needed to produce the company's new training program. In my eyes, she had become my enemy. She was intentionally, withholding her expertise which I needed to complete my assignment. I worked hard day and night to learn the advertising department production skills to produce and promote the company's training program myself. I got my "well done" pat on the back from the president, but I never forgot this young woman, who was the head of the advertising department. In fact, I took a passive, but, personal interest in her career!

Well, this lady, moved on to bigger and better things in Atlanta, and I moved up the company ladder to become a vice-president and director of personnel. Several years after she left the company, the position of advertising department head, came open again, and I was now my responsibility and authority to fill the position. Low and behold, who do I find applying for the job, but this same lady? She was now desperately looking for employment to support herself and her son. Regrettably, I still took a personal interest in her harm and hardship, and I did not offer her the job. After many pleas to be considered for her old job again, she asked me why. I told her, it was because of the way she treated me long ago. The tables had reversed! To her, I was her enemy! But even worse for me, I had become an enemy. I had done worse than she had ever done to me.

Jesus said in (Matthew 5:43-45 NIV) "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' {44} But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, {45} that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."

Why do I have to love my enemies?
I would like to offer four reasons why we need to love our enemies.
        1) you will not be overcome with evil.
        2) your enemy loses.
        3) you can become sons of the Father.
        4) Because that is what Jesus would do.

The first reason is that when we hate our enemy we become the very thing we hate! We become an enemy too! In my own experience with the lady in advertising, I had started out, just trying to good job for my boss. What I ended up doing, what I ended up becoming was a hateful, vindictive, heartless excuse for a human being. I was so concerned about "getting even," that I completely overlooked this poor woman's situation, trying to provide for her child. She was perfectly qualified, but I said, "no." Just to satisfy my own need for vengeance.

The Bible says, in (Romans 12:19-21 NIV) Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. {20} On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." {21} Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Why do I have to love my enemies? If we do not, we will be overcome, and become just like them, just as evil. And in most cases worse! Being an enemy is not a happy place to be. You always have to worry about your enemy getting even with you again!

The second reason why you have to love your enemies is that there will be plenty of room for God to take care of them. He sees what they do and they will pay when it counts for the evil deeds. "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord." "On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Now those burning coals can be two kinds of coals! They can be the burning fires of hell or they can be the burning fires of repentance. For you see, the terrible burden of guilt and shame was heaped upon my head for all the terrible things I had done to people like the lady in advertising. If she had done something terrible to me, I could have said, well, she's just an evil person, she deserved everything she got. But, if she had been kind to me maybe I would have seen my own cold heartedness and turned to the Lord for forgiveness long ago, instead of falling deeper and deeper in my sin.
By loving your enemies, and being kind to them, thy may have the burning coals of guilt heaped upon their heads and they may turn around and ask almighty God to forgive them and make them into a loving person like you. Brothers and sisters, it will catch up with you sooner or later. And it is better sooner than later.

The third reason why we have to love our enemies is because we can never truly become God's children on earth unless we can come to love our enemies. Loving our enemies is an unnatural thing to do. It is only possible with the help of God. It is one of the abiding gifts of God's Holy Spirit, the gift that Jesus offers us when we are saved by his grace for the forgiveness of our sins before God. If it is not even in our ability to be willing to try to love our enemies, brothers and sisters, there may even be a question, if you really have been saved by his grace. That means that not only have we become enemies of our fellow human beings, but we have become enemies of God through our disobedience to his Son's commands to love our enemies. The Bible says in (Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, {27} but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Now that is not a good place to be either!

Fourth and finally, the answer to the question, why do I have to love my enemies is, it is what Jesus would do! Have you ever seen some Christian young people wearing little bracelets with the letters WWJD on them? I saw one the other day and I asked the fellow what those letters meant. He smiled, looked at me and said, "What Would Jesus Do!" After Jesus told us in the Bible to love our enemies he said right after that, (Matthew 5:46-48 NIV) If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? {47} And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? {48} Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus was the perfect image of our Father God. The Bible says of Jesus, (Colossians 1:19-23 NIV) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, {20} and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. {21} Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. {22} But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- {23} if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

Jesus loved us, while we were enemies because of our evil behavior. In fact he love us so much he died that we might have forgiveness before God. Brother and sisters, that means that the gates of heaven are open to us because he loved us when we were his enemies.

Why do I have to love my enemies?
        1) you will not be overcome with evil.
        2) your enemy loses.
        3) you can become sons of the Father.
        4) Because that is what Jesus would do.
Jesus us loves even his enemies, which were you and me. He is standing at the door of your heart and he is knocking, asking to come and change your life. Will you let him in?

Pray with me!

Father, because of our sinfulness, we have become your enemies. Father, we turn away from all our disobedience to your word and commands.
We open our hearts and minds and ask your son Jesus to come and make us into a new person.
Come in Jesus.
Thank you God, for the gift of eternal life.

This is pastor John Warrener saying again, God loves you and I love you, but it is God that counts.

Would you like to know Jesus Christ as your savior and receive eternal life?

I want to know Jesus Christ as my Savior!

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