In this series we explore what it means to love your enemies. We also look at how Jesus' definition of neighbor differed from what was taught in the temple.
Series: Love Your Neighbor
Review of Last Week (Speaking Against Your Neighbor)
- “Judging the Law” means deciding that a law is not applicable in a certain situation which we’re not supposed to do.
- Deciding which law is more important than another if it’s not clearly stated in the bible is also judging the law.
- You can’t break the law to enforce the law
- It’s a sin to hurt the reputation of a fellow Christian (slander)
- Do not let your anger cause you to say or do something sinful
- If you can’t control your tongue your religion is worthless
- The goal isn’t just to control your tongue, but to change your heart
- Obeying God should happen from the inside out
- T.H.I.N.K. before you speak
T.H.I.N.K. Before You Speak
True: Is what I am saying true?
Helpful: Is what I am saying helpful? (Ephesians 4:29)
Inspirational: Will what I say inspire the person to be closer to God and give glory to Him? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Necessary: Is what I am saying necessary? (Proverbs 4:19) Sometimes it is best to hold your tongue.
Kind: Is what I am saying kind, does it build up? (Colossians 4:6)
Loving Your Enemies
Mark 12: 28-31
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”
Who is your neighbor?
- Who is your neighbor? - Jews, Christians, everyone
- Could Jesus have been using the term to refer to Christians? -- why or why not
- There were no Christians until after Jesus died.
Matthew 5: 43-48
43 “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 children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 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 own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- Did they consider their enemies their neighbors?
- Who did the Jews consider to be their neighbor?
- other Jews
- How did the Jews believe you should think of your enemies?
- hate them
- What does Jesus say is the requirement to be “children of God”?
- love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
- What does Jesus mean “even the pagans do that”?
Jesus was introducing a perspective on what is meant by the term “neighbor”. This Christian concept differed from the Jewish tradition of exclusivity and this was tradition was carried on by the apostles.
Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
- If he was an expert of the law why was he asking Jesus?
- probably to try to catch Jesus in a mistake therefore showing how smart he himself was
- What was the question from the expert of the law?
- What must I do to attain eternal life? ...to get to Heaven?
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
- How would he be justifying himself?
- He knew Jesus’ opinion of a “neighbor” was different than what the Jews taught.
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
- Of the 3 people who passed the injured man which one was a neighbor to the man?
- The Samaritan
- notice how the natural answer would be “The Samaritan” yet the lawyer avoided referring to him as such and called him “the one who showed mercy”
- Why would he not want to call the Samaritan by the name Jesus referred to him as?
- out of disrespect because they were enemies with the Samaritans
- Who did the expert in the law think “neighbors” should be?
- Who did Jesus say your neighbors are?
- He didn’t explicitly way, but implied everyone without having to say.
The expert in the law was trying to trap Jesus into saying that the enemies of the Jews were their neighbors because this would have been contrary to Jewish teaching. Samaritans were enemies of the Jews. Instead of explicitly saying that everyone (including your enemies) were your neighbors, Jesus just said “go and do likewise” without directly answering the question. You can imply that the injured traveller was Jewish because of the lack of specifying a race. Since the story showed the enemy of the Jew behaving lovingly, it would put the Jews in a bad light not to want to behave the in the same manner. The story depicted the enemy of the Jew showing mercy upon the Jewish man. The story put the Samaritan in a good light, so being a Jew how could you not want to at least live up that what a lowly Samaritan could accomplish.
1 John 2: 3-11
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
- What does Paul mean that he’s writing an old commandment, but he’s writing a new commandment?
- love your brother and sister is an old commandment, but Jesus gave a new definition to who your brother and sister are
John echoes the words of Jesus, saying that we come to know God when we obey His commands (v.3) and that His love is made complete when we obey His word (v.5). If we say that we are followers of Jesus we must walk as He did (v.6), in obedience to the Father and for the good of others. We are servants, called to live sacrificially. When we live like this we point to Jesus. The family of God should be known for its love, a love that reaches beyond our friends and family, to our enemies and those who persecute us. When we hate our brothers, we walk in darkness and there is no room for light (vv. 9, 11), but when we love others, we walk in the light and do not stumble (v.10). God calls us to more than just tolerating or coexisting with our enemies, He calls us to love them, respect them, and seek their wellbeing. And we do not do this in our own strength, but through God in us.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.
- Did Solomon agree with the “hate your neighbor philosophy”?
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] 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.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- What did Paul mean “do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath”?
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
- Why does Jesus say “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?”
- because it doesn’t take the love of God/Christ to do that
- What does he say will happen if “you love your enemies, do good to them and lend without expecting to get it back”?
- your reward will be great
God’s ultimate expression of loving-kindness is reflected in the giving of His Son so that all might have eternal life through Him. God loved the whole world even though the world was ungrateful, wicked, and in rebellion (v.35). And we act as His sons and daughters when we are loving towards our enemies, those who hate us, curse us, and mistreat us (v.35). Jesus teaches us to love our enemies. To love is to act in their best interest, it’s not so much about feelings or affection. When we remember the great loving-kindness God has shown us, we can learn to follow Jesus’ example and pray for our enemies and think of ways to be kind to them.
- Should we only love those people we feel affection towards?
We should do the acts of love and kindness out of obedience, but the goal is that our hearts change and we desire to do what is good for others. You can love the person, but not love their behavior.
- The Jews believed that you should love your neighbors and hate your enemies
- Jesus redefined the meaning of neighbor to include Jews and non-Jews alike (including your enemies)
- To love someone is to act in their best interest regardless of your feelings or affection towards them
- Although we should be kind and loving, it’s not what earns us our salvation
- The goal is that our hearts are changed, so we desire to be kind to others
- You should love the person even if you don’t love their actions