Am I Really Supposed to Love My Enemies 6 27 36
"Am I Really Supposed to Love My Enemies?" by Erik Estep
“Am I Really Supposed to Love My Enemies?”
Luke 6: 27-31
October 26, 2003
Intro: Today we are concluding our series of messages entitled “Hot Topics in Religion.” And we’re going to examine the question “Am I Really Supposed to Love My Enemies?” The answer to the question is YES. We really are supposed to love our enemies.
-Now I don’t know @ you but that seems impossible. How in the world can you love someone who doesn’t love you? How in the world can you love someone who wants to do you harm and tear you down? It’s much easier for me to love people who already love me.
-I have no trouble at all loving my wife, Emily. We got married b/c we love each other. We enjoy being w/one another. Emily is genuinely interested in who I am as a person and, believe it or not, after 11 years of marriage I still want to impress her b/c what she thinks @ me is important.
-I don’t have any trouble loving my children. They’re a part of who I am. I take care of them and have a genuine interest in seeing them grow up to be good, productive citizens.
-Now there are times when we all get on each others nerves. There are times when we have arguments and fight w/one another. But at the end of the day we still love each other. But Jesus comes along and tosses in this monkey wrench of saying that not only are we to love those who love us but we’re even to love those who don’t love us! Many of us read that and think, “Are you kidding me?”
-Late one summer evening in Broken Bow, Nebraska, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. The waitress had just served him when three tough looking, leather jacketed motorcyclists - of the Hell’s Angels type - decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, one grabbed the hamburger off his plate, another took a handful of his french fries, and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it.
-How would you respond? Well, this trucker did not respond as one might expect. Instead, he calmly rose, picked up his check, walked to the front of the room, put the check and his money on the cash register, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night.
-When she returned, one of the bikers said to her, "Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?" She replied, "I don’t know about that, but he sure ain’t much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot."
-Sounds like justice, doesn’t it? When someone wrongs us our first instinct is to get them back! Our first instinct is to make them hurt as much as they hurt us. That is the world’s answer to being wronged. But Jesus gives His followers a different response they’re to have. He tells us we’re to love our enemies.
Sermon Idea: Today in our passage of Scripture we’re going to see Jesus sharing w/His followers how they’re to respond to those who are their enemies. Now some of you might think, “I don’t have to worry @ this b/c I don’t have any enemies.” Just to be truthful, if you don’t have any now you’re going to have some pretty soon. It’s one of the unfortunate things in life that there are some people who are never, ever going to like you no matter what you do.
-So the question becomes “How are you going to respond to people like that?” Jesus answers that question for us today.
TEXT: LUKE 6: 27-31
Bckgrd: This section of Scripture is known as the Sermon on the Mount, which is recognized as the greatest sermon ever preached. And it’s in this section where Jesus lays out the foundational truths for Xianity. And one of the foundational truths of the Xian faith is that we are to love our enemies.
-Now I’m going to be honest w/you. That’s a bizarre and hard teaching. So the question we’re going to answer is “How am I to respond to my enemies?” Jesus shares w/us 3 responses we’re to have towards our enemies. And the 1st response you’re to have toward your enemies is:
DIV. 1: DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU (v. 27)
Exp: I don’t think it’s too hard to imagine this was a teaching that was totally foreign to the society of this day. It’s even foreign to our society as well. But even the religious leaders were confused by this teaching of Jesus.
A. The rabbis were teaching at this time, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Makes sense to me. My guess is most of us would be pretty good at following this law. But you know what? It doesn’t take any supernatural power to do that. Jesus said in v. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.”
1. When Jesus calls us to love those who hate us, He’s calling for us to do something that’s totally contrary to our human nature. Human nature tells us to get revenge! Human nature tells us when someone messes w/us we’re going to lay the hammer down on them.
a. The thought is if we get back at them they’ll know not to mess w/us anymore. Plus we think that revenge is sweet; that it’s going to make us feel better. But guess what. Hatred is a horrible tool that literally destroys us!
b. It destroys us physically. Scientific studies have been done to show the damage hatred does. Anger causes your blood pressure and breathing rate to increase which causes a strain on your heart making you more susceptible to heart attacks and stroke. It also can trigger headaches and lead to abusive behavior. It can break down your immune system and cause you to be susceptible to various diseases.
2. Hatred also can destroy you emotionally. It wears you out and makes your judgment less effective leading to bad decision making. Often times the result of hatred is outbursts that can cause us to be embarrassed. This can lead to feelings of guilt and depression. Another side effect of always being angry and having intense hatred is not many people will enjoy being around you.
a. Of course, hatred destroys you spiritually. We’re told throughout the Bible that the essence of God is love. And if we are harboring hatred in our hearts then we’re living contrary to God’s command to love each other. The result of that is a disconnect from God.
b. Ps. 66: 18 says, “If I have sin in my heart God will not hear me.” Folks, there are probably a lot of us who feel disconnected from God, who feel distant from God b/c we’re harboring things in our lives that aren’t supposed to be there.
B. Have you ever noticed when you’re angry at someone it becomes the focus of your life? It doesn’t matter what’s going on around you, your thoughts and focus are totally upon the person who’s wronged you and you become trapped in that hatred to where it’s hard to function properly as a person and as a follower of God.
1. So how can we gain freedom from being imprisoned by anger? Jesus said it’s by doing good to those who hate you. One thing we all have control over is how we’re going to respond. And if you make the choice to respond to those who hate you, to those who are angry at you by doing good to them, you’re going to diffuse a tense situation.
a. For one it will totally confuse the one who hates you b/c they’re expecting you to respond in anger. It will also diffuse some of the anger they have toward you. It’s really hard for someone to continue to hate you when you do them good. Kindness and love change people.
ILLUS: Watchman Nee told a story @ a Chinese Xian man who owned a rice paddy next to his. The Xian man irrigated his paddy by pumping water out of a canal. Every day, after the Xian had pumped enough water to fill his paddy, the Communist man would come out, remove the boards that kept the water in his neighbor’s paddy, and allow the water to drain into his paddy so he wouldn’t have to pump the water.
-This continued for some time, until the Xian was just fed up w/it. He prayed, “Lord, if this keeps up I’m going to lose all my rice, maybe even my field. What can I do?” The Lord responded by putting this thought in his mind.
-The next morning the Xian man got up early and started pumping water into his neighbor’s paddy first. Then he replaced the boards and pumped water into his own rice paddy. The result is both rice paddies became productive and the Communist man was moved by his neighbor’s loving action. The two men became friends and eventually the Communist man became a follower of Jesus.
b. In practice, here’s what this would mean for us: mowing the lawn of a hateful neighbor; volunteering to fill in for the mean-spirited co-worker who drives you nuts; or being helpful and kind to an ex-spouse. It may mean providing for a parent who was mean to you as you were growing up. But this is what it means to do good to those who hate you.
2. And if you do these things you’ll be surprised by the freedom you feel from not being tied down to the anger you have towards those who’ve been mean to you. You may even be surprised by the impact you have on the life of your enemy.
a. Abraham Lincoln said he destroyed his enemies by loving them. How many enemies have you destroyed like that?
Reit: The 1st response you’re to have toward your enemies is do good to those who hate you. The 2nd response you’re to have toward your enemies is:
DIV. 2: BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU (v. 28)
Exp: We’ve all heard the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I’m here to tell you today that is an absolute lie. There aren’t too many things that carry more power in life than the way we communicate w/one another.
A. The Bible tells us over and over again the great power that’s in our speech. Unfortunately, it’s so much easier for us to use our speech in a negative way than a positive way. It’s so much easier to lash out at people than it is to use our speech to build them up.
1. But when we choose to use our speech to lash out at people who’ve harmed us or hurt our feelings, all we’re doing is throwing gas on a fire. All we’re doing is rubbing salt in a wound. And we all know what happens when you put salt in a cut! It stings! It hurts! It typically causes a bad reaction! That’s one reason Jesus tells us that one of the best ways to respond to our enemies is by blessing them!
a. Kind speech has a way of working as a salve to heal wounds in people’s lives. Prov. 12: 18-“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Can you think of an example in your life when someone said something to you that brought encouragement to you; that brought hope to you?
b. Some of you may have experienced the wonderful joy of making a mistake that you knew would cause your spouse to be angry w/you. But instead of responding in anger they came up to you and said, “I love you.” Isn’t it great when something like that happens? It totally changes your mood. It causes you to put down your defense mechanism and just relax!
2. As a matter of fact a kind word; a word of encouragement can actually remove the anger a person has towards you. Prov. 15: 1-“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I really believe most of us probably would have fewer enemies if we learned how to speak in a way that built people up instead of tearing them down. Harsh words put people in a fighting mood. Kind words soften their spirit.
ILLUS: Let me give you an example. A Christian lady owned two prized chickens that got out of their run and busied themselves in the garden of the lady’s rather grouchy neighbor.
-The man was incensed when he saw the 2 hens. So he ran out, caught the hens, wrung their necks, and threw them back over the fence. As you can imagine, the woman was upset, but she avoided her urge to get angry and rush over and scream at the man.
-Instead, she took the birds, dressed them out, and prepared two chicken pies. Then she delivered one of the freshly baked pies to the man who had killed her hens. When she handed him the chicken pot pie, she apologized to him for not being more careful about keeping her chickens in her own yard.
-Her children, expecting an angry scene, hid behind a bush to see the man’s face and hear what he’d say. But the man was absolutely speechless! The chicken pie and apology filled him with a burning sense of shame and he apologized to her for reacting so harshly.
a. Next time you see a person who just automatically ticks you off, think of a kind word or deed to share w/him. And do it b/c you want to be more like Jesus. And I think you’ll be surprised at how good you feel for doing it and surprised by how the person reacts.
Reit: The 1st response you’re to have toward your enemies is do good to those who hate you. The 2nd response is to bless those who curse you. And the final response you’re to have toward your enemies is:
DIV. 3: PRAY FOR THOSE WHO MISTREAT YOU (v. 28)
Exp: Have you discovered that those people who mistreat you have a way of dominating your thoughts? Not only do they physically abuse you but they can also mentally abuse you b/c it’s hard to get our minds off of what they’ve done to us!
A. Have you ever been there before? I can think of times when people have wronged me and instead of just moving on I dwelt on what they did to me and it just consumed my thoughts. It made me miserable and I got tired of being dominated by them in my mind.
1. Well, Jesus has a solution to that problem for us. You know what it is? It’s to pray for those who mistreat you! Now before you get excited, Jesus isn’t talking @ us praying for our enemy to get run over by a truck. He’s not talking @ us praying for revenge upon our enemies.
a. He’s referring to us praying for their hearts to be changed. You see, too often we waste our time dealing w/symptoms instead of dealing w/the cause. For example, if I stay up late and don’t get much sleep I typically have a headache and can be a little irritable. So I’ll try to take care of the problem by staying away from loud noises and taking aspirin. But all I’m doing is treating the symptoms.
b. What I really need to do is just go to bed earlier and that’ll eliminate my problems plus the medication. And typically we do the same thing w/our enemies. We see them being rude to us. We see them doing things they know will make us upset.
2. And we deal w/the problem by yelling at them or by ignoring them. But to respond in that manner is to only deal w/the symptoms of the problem. The best thing we can do is to pray for them. To pray that God will deal w/their heart and bring change. To pray that God will deal w/our heart not to be so irritated by them.
a. Your prayers for your enemies can actually serve as a tool to keep you from being destroyed by bitterness and anger. And your prayers can also serve as a net to salvage you from being controlled by your feelings.
ILLUS: During the building of the Golden Gate Bridge over San Francisco Bay, construction fell badly behind schedule because several workers had accidentally fallen from the scaffolding to their deaths.
-Engineers and administrators could find no solution to the costly delays. Finally, someone suggested a gigantic net be hung under the bridge to catch any who fell. Finally in spite of the enormous cost, the engineers opted for the net. After it was installed, progress was hardly interrupted. A worker or two fell, but the net saved their lives. The net allowed them to move on in their work w/o fear and worry.
b. Prayer is just like that net! It keeps us from going over the edge in anger. Communication w/God can take the sting out of our hatred and anger towards people. That’s good to know b/c it’s in this section of Scripture we see one of the hardest commands Jesus gives us…to love our enemies. It’s so hard to do but we’ve been called to do it b/c that’s what Jesus has done for us.
B. Do you realize it’s in our nature to be at odds w/God; to be His enemy? But in spite of this fact, Jesus has sought to love us anyway. Rom. 5: 8-“In that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
1. You want your life to be better? You want to get people’s attention? Then simply love people; love ALL people whether they be your friends or enemies. Eph. 4: 32-“Be kind and compassionate, one to another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Conclusion: When you and I leave here today the question for us is going to be “How are we going to respond to our enemies?” If we’re followers of Jesus we’ve been given 3 responses to have towards our enemies: 1st, do good to those who hate you. 2nd, bless those who curse you. And finally, pray for those who mistreat you.
-Now let me ask you a question. Can you think of someone who’s mistreated you? Someone who’s done you wrong? If you can, put into practice what we’ve talked @ today. I know that sounds impossible and I want you to know it is, in your own power. But w/God’s involvement, all things are possible. If someone at work is always smarting off to you, respond to them tomorrow by giving them a word of encouragement.
-If one of your family members says hateful things to you, start praying that God will heal their heart. And pray for the Lord to allow love to well up in your heart for that family member. Ask God to show you ways you can demonstrate love to your enemies.
-Remember, a kind word turns away wrath. But most importantly, loving your enemies demonstrates in a powerful way that you belong to Jesus Christ.