How do we love our enemies?
We will have them, otherwise, we would not have been told to love them. "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 despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven... (Matthew 5:44-45)."
Jesus clearly taught this to a people that had been taught by the law of Moses; "...Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy (Matthew 5:43)."
GRACE IS MORE POWERFUL
It was the changing of dispensation, from law to grace. Which is more powerful?
How do you love your enemies, those that try to destroy your influence and clearly are wrong in what they do? The same way Jesus did.
Jesus came to a nation of very religious people that hated him and persecuted him, a people that should have loved Him and known exactly who He was. He called those religious Pharisees what they were and warned His followers of them; Snakes, wolves in sheep's clothing, murders of the prophets and children of Satan.
He told them the truth, even though it brought more hatred to Him from those that were clearly His enemies. Then to show His love for those that hated Him, He prayed for them and forgave them. He paid the price of redemption for them, so they could be saved, "IF" there was anything in them to respond to that salvation.
John 3:16 tells us he died for the world, giving "whosoever will" an opportunity, knowing that only the Elect, those that He loved and ordained to life would be saved. That was how we loved His enemies.
STEPHEN STOOD FOR TRUTH
We must do the same. In the New Testament, Stephen stood for truth, calling the most religious people, murders of the prophets and always stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears (Acts 7:51-52) - did they love him for that? No they stoned him, even though he spoke the truth.
As they stoned him, his last words were as follows: "And they stoned Stephen , calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:59-60)."
There stood a young man by the name of Saul approving of his death, but by Stephen's testimony of which Saul had to know was true, it would later move him to Christ. The others went their way, wherever they came from.
SPEAK AND STAND FOR THE TRUTH
It is the same today, love your enemies, pray for them and forgive them. Speak and stand for the truth, regardless of the cost. We cannot compromise truth for the sake of unity (Philippians 3:17:19). Jesus didn't, Stephen didn't, and upon his conversion neither did the Apostle Paul, formally Saul who witnessed Stephens death.
We will have enemies for truths sake, but always remember, they are enemies for Christ's sake. Let us be Jesus Christ to them in Word, by speaking the truth and in action, by praying for and forgiving them.
Pastor Bill Ivy - Living Word Tabernacle, Campbell Missouri USA - Our services are archived - www.livingwordtabernacle.com