As we keep studying the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus now begins talking to the whole crowd. This message is one of the hardest teachings of Scripture.
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Believe it or not, this section of the Word is the basis of a supernatural ministry. What the Lord says here, and is about to say, definitely cannot be accomplished in our own strength. We must draw on the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.
Remember that love is a choice. It’s not just words. We’re really good at saying, “I love everybody.” However, saying it and walking in it are two very different things.
Love is a choice to act. That’s the key. Jesus clearly says that this love acts to do good things to those who have made the choice to either ignore you or affect your life negatively.
As a matter of fact, the Lord takes this even further. The word, bless, in this verse means to speak well of. This is one of the hardest things to do. Usually, when it comes to those who hate us, we try to garner support for our side of the issue.
We try to tell others how bad this person is so that we get their support and encouragement. Instead, Christ says to speak well of those who are speaking evil of us. This is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Then, to top it off, we bring their needs to the Lord in prayer. This takes a total change of heart. Our human nature wants to see God hurt them. But that’s not the road we’re to walk. Love is a choice to live like Jesus.
If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
This is a very hard teaching to follow. However, we need to understand the context. The Lord is NOT telling us here that we need to stay in an abusive situation. The verses immediately preceding this are talking about being hated for the cause of Christ.
In our testimony of Jesus, we’re not to strike back. However, there’s no Scriptural basis for allowing others to abuse us.
Slaves are told that they are to gain their freedom, if they can (1 Corinthians 7:21). On more than one occasion, Paul demanded his rights as a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37; 22:25). Jesus even told His disciples that if they were persecuting you somewhere, then leave that place and go somewhere else (Matthew 10:23)
There are times, however, when we need to put away our rights for the cause of Christ. That’s why it’s so important to spend time with the Holy Spirit. It’s through His prompting that we know when to fight and when to back off.
Actually, the last line of this passage says it all. We need to treat others the way we want to be treated. That’s one of the best ways to show that you’re different than the rest of the world.
Allow the Holy Spirit to use you to affect the world around you. Be an agent of love and encouragement. Let the life of Christ shine through you.
Question: How have you showed love in unexpected ways lately?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi