Matthew 5:43-47 (The Message Bible)
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any [body can do] that.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says, ‘It takes strength to love’ those who don’t love you. When Jesus admonished us to love one’s enemy he was ‘not an impractical idealist…[but a] practical realist.’
Last week’s lesson outlined practical steps of ‘How’ we love persons who oppose us, seek to harm us or even persecute us. This week we outline ‘Why’ we must love, despite the intentions of others.
‘Jesus the Christ understood that love is the key to set both the oppressed and the oppressor free.’ Sheila McKeithen
Why must we ‘love’ the perceived enemy? Dr. King offers us three (3) reasons:
- ‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.’
- ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’
- Hate injures its object but it also injures and often destroys its vessel.
- ‘…[H]ate divides the personality and love in an amazing and inexorable way unites it.’
- ‘…[L]ove is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.’
- ‘By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up.’
Quotes from Strength to Love, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.’
‘Hate destroys a [person’s] sense of values and…objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.’