The Blessings Of Loving Our Enemies

Do not return evil for evil, or ranting for ranting:
but in contrast, give back blessing; knowing
that you are called to do so, for in doing so,
you will inherit a blessing yourself. If you wish
to love life, and see good days, you must choose
to refrain your tongue from speaking evil, and
keep your lips from deceitful speech. You must
avoid doing evil, and do good instead; you must
seek peace, and pursue it. For the eyes of the
Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open
unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is
against them that do evil. (I Peter 3:8-12)

In this series we looked at why we should love our enemies and respond to an adversary by turning the other cheek. We mentioned two very important ways we lose out if we do not respond in a Godly manner when provoked. First, we set ourselves up as God, thus inviting His chastisement upon ourselves. Only God can know another persons thoughts and motivations. Only God can rightly judge another persons actions. And only God can rightly repay that person for their wrong. His word make it very clear:

"Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay"

Second, we saw that when we fail to respond as God has instructed us, we damage our testimony, or our credibility as Christians. We are to be a light to the world around us, a light showing the love of God. If we respond as the world responds, where is our light? If there is nothing different about us, why would anyone else want to be like us? Jesus said it like this:

You have heard it said, "Love your neighbour, and hate your enemy".
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who spitefully
use you, and persecute you;That you may be the children of your
your Father which is in heaven: For if you only love those who love
you, what reward do you have? Do not even the publicans the same?
(Matthew 5:43-46)

Luke records Christ's words another way:

Treat others as you would have them treat you.
For if you love them which love you, what reward will
you have? For sinners also love those that love them.

And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what
reward do you have? For sinners also do even the same.
And if you lend to those of whom ye hope to receive, what is your
reward? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in
return; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children
of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
(Luke 6: 31-35)

So we see from Christ's own words that we are to love our enemies and how we are to treat them. Doing so blesses us far more than we bless them. Jesus promised that our reward will be great by doing things God's way instead of our own. If we don't, we miss out on our own reward, But there is yet another way we miss out, the most important one of all. Today's key verses tell us:

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain
his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open
unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

It's pretty simple, really. Keep from speaking bad to and about others, and be honest with everyone. Always choose to do what's right, and avoid doing what you know is wrong. And actively seek peace. In doing so, God watches over us, and hears our prayers. If we don't, His face is turned against us.

It is very clear that if we want a good peaceful life, we have to learn how to control our own words and actions, not anyone else's! We must make a conscious and deliberate effort to seek peace, and pursue it. That means we must do whatever we can to achieve it. And not just once, but as often as it takes: the word "pursue" indicates an on-going effort, rather than a one-time event! We have to be willing to take the initiative: seeking peace and actively pursuing it - difficult though that may be. In fact, in our own human power that is impossible, but the Holy Spirit within us gives us the power to live as God commands.

Our key verses show us that failing to control our words and our actions can cause God to hide His face from us, and not hear our prayers. This comes as a shock to may people, who seem to view God sort of like a cosmic vending machine: put in your prayers and you automatically get your request. But God is not a vending machine, and He is not obligated to answer every prayer. When we persist in hiding sinful, unforgiving, self-righteous attitudes in our hearts, when we insist on doing things our own way, despite what God's word teaches, when we insist on getting even or acting badly toward one who has wronged us, we miss out on the blessings of obedience, and actually hinder our own prayers and our relationship with God.

The heart of the righteous studies how to answer:
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
The LORD is far from the wicked: but He hears
the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29)

But your iniquities have separated between you
and your God, and your sins have hid his face
from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

If we don't choose to love our enemies as God tells us to, we not only usurp God's position as judge, we not only damage our own testimony, we not only forfeit our rewards, we actually end up hurting ourselves far more than our anger hurts our enemies. We hinder our prayers, forfeit God's watchfulness and blessings over our lives, and cause Him to set His face against us. Is our anger worth that? Is the wrong they've done us so grievous that we are willing to miss out on our blessings and have God turn a deaf ear to our prayers?

I don't know about you, but I want God to hear my prayers; no, I NEED for God to hear my prayers! Though I sometimes want to "get even" with someone who has hurt me, my need for revenge or my need to hold a grudge just isn't worth the negative effect it will have in my life!

We know that He will never leave us or forsake us, but we definitely hinder our relationship with Him when we stubbornly persist in trying to do things our own way instead of the way He tells us to. We have to be willing to let go of our own desires for revenge, to let go of our hurts and let God deal with our enemies. We have to obey what Jesus said, and forgive and love our enemies. God cannot and will not bless our disobedience!

How Are We To Treat Our Enemies? Part 1
How Are We To Treat Our Enemies? Part 2: Watch Your Mouth!
How Are We To Treat Our Enemies? Part 3: Turn The Other Cheek
Loving Our Enemies

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