This Week's Focus Passage

‘Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.’

Focus Passage: Luke 6:27

‘Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.’

Love thy neighbor. That is a whole lot easier said than done. What does it require of us? What does it NOT require of us? When are we required to go the extra mile? When are we required to turn the other cheek? What is it to go the extra mile, and what is it to turn the other cheek? The teaching found in the ‘Samaritan Road’ narrative in Luke 10:25ff; how does that apply to us in this our own day? Is the teaching not in response to the question of the young lawyer when he asked—defensively—it appears to us—Who is my neighbor? When one that is in some conspicuous need is placed before us; that is, in our path, as it were; when we may have an opportunity to be sympathetic to the needs of others, are there any such occasions when it may be best to ‘let sleeping dogs lie.’? Are we not in many cases to rather be prudent? Is Christ teaching us here that we should pick up hitch-hikers, even if we have family with us and doing so may place them in jeopardy? Do we not have a responsibility for the safety of the wife and children given us by God?

Is it not reasonable to expect that the lesson from the Samaritan Road narrative coincides with the later teaching of Paul as it is found in Galatians 6:10, when he wrote to that church, and to us as readers today, So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith. Is not the phrase, as we have opportunity a most meaningful phrase; does it not qualify the issue of how it is that we are able to work any good toward any men? Is it not our sovereign God who numbers the hairs of our heads; who takes minute notice of even the falling of such an ‘insignificant’ creature as a sparrow, who may also place a needy person in our path, knowing the precise avenues and corridors of our pathway? Knowing that this man, this victim, is not ‘accidentally’ lying on the shoulder of the road and in a desperate condition apart from the will of Him who directs all things, but that, even as to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose, so this man is placed in great need before our eyes, before our consciences. How then do we respond? Will the same Lord who is over all not with this circumstance also provide us with the grace and wisdom to enable us to arrive at an action that will meet this person’s needs and at the same time provide for the safety of any with us. The potential provisions for such a case are innumerable under the auspices of sovereignty. ‘The Lord will provide’ was the cry of the patriarch in his apparent dilemma, was it not? Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths is the instruction given by the writer of the Proverbs. Are we not pretending to trust God with all our heart only to turn around and lean upon our own understanding when we imagine that we are not in a position to give aid to some individual in need. We presume that we have not the legs to walk another mile, or that we have not another cheek to turn, when the reality is that our faith is small.

Yet we are reminded from the words of the apostle Paul, when he wrote, that If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men, that God knows our frame, He remembers that we are but dust. He will not require of us anything that He does not also provide to us by His grace and power. He has provided these caveats for us that we suffer not overmuch about the many occasions wherein we have neither the ability nor the adequate circumstances to bring about the desideratum of peace with all men. And so He gives us this cushion, as it were, If it be possible, and if that is not sufficient to allay any feeling of guilt, He further advises, As much as in you lieth. How infinitely gracious and wise is our Father in heaven. He indeed pities us, knowing our frame. The immediate context provides us with most grand instruction providing us with needful direction, as when Paul has said Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not. Really, does it cost us any pain to bless someone; to pray for them? He goes on when he insists that we render to no man evil for evil; now I know that the world says ‘don’t get mad, get even,’ but really, what did that ever get anyone? Are we not blest ourselves when we engage in prayer for another? And what do we gain by rendering evil for evil; nothing but a hardening of our hearts. Paul states the Truth as it is in Christ when he further states the lawful behavior of a child of God, and that it is to not avenge ourselves. And why? Because it is not our place to take vengeance; Vengeance belongeth unto God. It is not our place, nor is it our responsibility. Fret not thyself because of evil-doers; Trust is Jehovah and do good are the responses advised by David, Psalm 37.

In another account of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:43ff, from the lips of our Lord Himself, are we not exhorted to emulate our Father in heaven when Christ says to His listeners—and are we not His listeners:

Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust…………………Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

We have been given a definite clue in this passage as to what we ourselves are able to do that might be conducive toward peace, even with our enemies. Christ has said, and that emphatically, Pray for them that persecute you. This is what the sons of God are to do. The ultimate peace, of course, is peace with God through the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It appears almost ironic that in spite of the assertion that peace through violence is not true peace at all, yet we have peace with God through the violence of Golgotha. The One who suffered the most violent and cruel death known to mankind, and that from the hands of those whom He had created, yet brought peace with God through the suffering of that violence that He endured for us.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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