Hearing His Voice Today
Loving the Unlovely
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Matthew 5:43-48 (KJV)
- Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
- But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you;
- That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to
rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
- For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the
- And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the
- Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Loving the Unlovely
Have you noticed that in our Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is constantly correcting bad teaching?
Six times Jesus corrects false teaching (murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, revenge, love), and in
doing so, He gives the true teaching of the Word of God. We all should be "workmen who
rightly divide the Word."
- The Twisted Teaching of the Scribes Concerning Love . . . "love thy neighbor,
and hate thine enemy"
Bad, twisted teaching will usually be guilty of two sins with regard to the Scriptures:
- Bad teaching results from the sin of omission
The Scripture actually says, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev.
It was inconceivable to the religious leaders that they should care for any other person as much
as they cared for themselves. Bad teaching will always avoid the
Further, they omitted the true meaning of "neighbor." The religious leaders excluded:
- "Publicans" or tax-collectors who had sold out to the Roman oppressors,
- "Sinners" such as criminals and prostitutes who were publicly known for sin,
- "Common people" or "the multitude which does not know the Law"
To the scribes and the Pharisees, "neighbor" included people "like them."
- Bad teaching results from the sin of addition
Nowhere does the Scripture teach to "hate thine enemy," yet this was taught. Those who
teach will always fall into trouble when they start adding their own logic!
- What about the wars with the Canaanites, Moabites, and Ammonites?
"Vengeance is Mine, I will repay" (Rom. 12:19). "My cup is full." (Gen.
Deitrich Bonhoeffer says, "Israel's wars were truly the only holy wars in history."
- What about the imprecatory Psalms of David, when David prays for
"Zeal for Thy house has consumed me." (Psalm 69:9) (John 2:17). This righteous
indignation in David, and later found in Jesus, was for the honor of God alone.
- The True Teaching of Christ Concerning Love . . . "love your enemies, bless
them that curse you."
When Jesus said, "But I say unto you," He use the Greek emphatic "ego" (I)
"lego" (I say).
This must have been quite a shock to those who listened to Him. "Love" our enemies!?
The reasons for treating your enemies this way are three-fold in nature:
- Love them in what you say . . . "bless them that curse you"
This is not in the NIV or NAS. "Bless" means "to eulogize," or to have a gentle spirit toward.
- Love them in what you do . . . "do good to them that hate you."
This means "do acts of kindness" as in feeding your hungry enemy (Rom. 12:20).
- Love them in how you pray . . . "pray for them who persecute
Our Lord on the cross and Stephen when stoned ("lay not this sin upon them") are
Does your life display this kind of love? Are you able to love "the unlovely?" Do you have it in
your heart to "do good" to them who despise and mistreat you? Remember, a graced heart is a
- That you may be the sons of God . . . not that you become His sons, but that
you are known as His sons as in "by this (love) shall all know ye are mine" (John 13:35).
- That others might experience the difference . . . those who don't know Christ
love like the scribes and the Pharisees; if they are pleasant to be around, I will love them.
- That you may be "perfect" in Christ . . . the word "perfect" literally means "to
reach an intended end" and is sometimes translated "mature" or "complete."