Matthew 5 v43-45 reads; “You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for them that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven.”
The first thing Martin Luther King says we have to do is examine ourselves. People dislike us for all sorts of illogical reasons, but have we actually done something in the past to encourage their dislike of us? That is why we have to begin with ourselves. Examine ourselves.
Our actions individually and collectively, as a nation can stir up hatred.
Jesus said: “How is it that you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own eye?” So we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us by looking at ourselves.
The second thing that King advises us to do we is to discover the good in our enemy, and everytime we begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points.
There is a civil war going on within us. Within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we recognise this, we take a different attitude toward others. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates us most has some good in it; even the race that hates us most has some good in it. And when we can look into the face of anyone and see deep down within them “the image of God,” we begin to love them in spite of their hate.
Another way King encourages us to love our enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for us to pay them back, that is the time which we must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates us, the person who has gossiped about us, the person who has spread false rumors about us, there will come a time when we will have an opportunity to get back at them But we musnt pay them back because if we do we just perpetuate the wrong in the world. We rise above them because we are better than this.
This is what Jesus means when he says, “Love your enemy.” This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can pay back don’t do it.
Hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil and inject within the universe the power of love. (Mozzam Begg)
There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts us. You cant see straight when you hate. Hate is a cancer that gnaws away at us. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.
Now there is a final reason that King says we should do what Jesus says, and that is because love is a redemptive power. Its is a power that transforms people. Keep loving your enemies even though theyre mistreating you. Just keep loving them, and they cant stand it for too long. They react. They react with bitterness because theyre angry because you love them and sometimes theyll hate you more, but just keep loving them. Thats love is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies. (Policeman in Bristol)
Long ago Jesus started an empire that depended on love, and even to this day millions will die for him.”
When we love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and do good to those that hate us, and prayed for those who use us, we have graduated into heavenly realms!
Oh God, help us in our lives and our attitudes, to work out that we can solve every problem that we confront in our lives. Let us join together in listening to these words of Jesus. In the name and spirit of Christ, we pray. Amen.