“Bless Those Who Curse You”
Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:27,28). The phrase “love your enemies” is a quotation from Leviticus 19:18. However, the part “hate your enemy” is not part of that quotation but was a popular saying at that time.
The Jews thought themselves, the sons of Abraham (John 8:33; Matthew 3:9), better than other races (Luke 18:11). They looked with disdain on all Gentiles. To the Jews a “neighbor” was only an Israelite. Even the Half breed Samaritans were excluded from the Jews’ love and were regarded as foreigners. In the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29–37), Jesus canceled this point of view by declaring the brotherhood of all people. Christian love sees the good of all men, regardless of their race or religion.
So, in Luke 6:27,28 as if Jesus was saying, “The law says to love your neighbor; I say, love even your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). He, then, clarified why a Christian should love his enemies. And this is because God does so (Matthew 5: 45–48). And since a Christian is His child, he ought to do the same (Matthew 5:45; 1 John 3:1, 2).
Christ’s command would not be possible if it asked Christians to have loving emotions “philein” to their enemies, for they could not feel toward their enemies the same emotional affection that they feel toward their family members, nor is that expected of them. Divine love “agapan,” is under the control of the human will. To agapan our worst enemies is to deal with them with respect and politeness and to see them as God sees them regardless of our feelings.
In that sense, love would be a principle and not a feeling. Also, the command “bless your enemies” means “pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Thus, the test of love for God is love for our fellow men (1 John 4:20).
How Can a Person Love His Enemies?
Hatred or disdain for others is the natural fruit of pride and selfishness in the unconverted heart. But once the believer makes the decision to respect and pray for his enemies, the Lord miraculously pours in his heart divine love for his enemies. The apostle Paul affirms this truth saying, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new nature is not merely the product of a desire to do right (Romans 7:15–18). It is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit, which produces a change of life. Thus, we are made partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 5:11, 12).
But the newborn Christian is not born a full-grown Christian; he first has the spiritual inexperience of a child. But as a son of God, he does have the chance to grow up into the full image of Christ (Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 4:14–16; 2 Peter 3:18). This experience of sanctification is a long-life process.
A change takes place in the Christian’s heart by beholding God’s loving character. And the believer gets to emulate the character of His Redeemer (2 Corinthians 3:18). Therefore, the Christian who continually dwells upon the Savior’s life and ministry will show in his own life the compassionate character of God. And if he diligently does so, he will go on “from glory to glory” in his Christian walk (2 Peter 1:5–7). And the world will be blessed by his life.
In His service,