By Brooke Holt
“But I say to you who hear, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” – Luke 6:27-31
The Israelites had been taught to love God and to love their neighbors. Jesus called these the greatest of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 22:35–40). But never had God written anything on stone about loving their enemies. Jesus brought new teaching, new ways of living, and a new transformation of the heart. Jesus expanded upon the definition of love—both the ways we love and the people we love. Jesus called believers to love their neighbors, love other believers, and love their families. Most of all, Jesus called them to love God with all their heart, mind, and strength. But now, in today’s verses, Jesus called them to love those who hated them, persecuted them, stole from them, and killed them.
This was a radical call for the Jewish people at that time! Why would they be expected to love like that? Would that even mean loving the Gentiles? That was quite the stretch! But thankfully, Jesus would not just teach about this kind of love. He would also model it. Though he was falsely accused, beaten, stripped, and even crucified, Jesus loved to the very end. He forgave his enemies and invited sinners to receive his grace and live in relationship with him. Out of love for us, Jesus laid down his life.
Now, he calls you to do the same. When you receive the grace of Jesus Christ, when you receive his divine love for you, when you allow him to fill you with his Holy Spirit, you are empowered to love with his love. His love surpasses human understanding and ability. Believers can love with the divine love of Jesus Christ—with the divine love that offers grace, forgiveness, compassion, and understanding. Divine love keeps no record of wrongs. Divine love allows you to turn the other cheek, give away your tunic, and donate generously to people who cannot pay you back.
How do you love your enemies? Only through being loved by the Father, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and being reborn in the name of the Son. Then you can love your enemies through obedience to the teachings of Jesus. Then you can model your life after him and not this world. Then you can look beyond yourself and see another person’s pain. It is not easy to love your enemies, but as you surrender your life to become more like Jesus, his divine love will overflow in you. You will decrease while he increases in you (John 3:30).
How is Jesus calling you to love your enemies today? What does sacrificial love look like in your life? How does the Lord want to expand that love? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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