La Vista Church of Christ 



            Once again Jesus gives a quotation. "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." The first half of the quotation is found in Leviticus 19:18, but the second half is not in the Old Testament. In fact, the passages surrounding Leviticus 19:18 teach the very opposite attitude. God tells the Israelites not to hate their brethren in Leviticus 19:17. In Leviticus 19:34, the Israelites are instructed to love the foreigners living within their lands. If your enemy needs help, you do not withhold your aid (Exodus 23:4-5, Proverbs 25:21-22). Obviously the quotation cannot be attributed to the Old Testament.

            In contrast to the given statement, Jesus said that you are to return good to those who hate you. Be friendly with your enemies and care about them. In Proverbs 24:17-18, we are told not to gloat when an enemy fails. We are given many examples concerning loving our enemies. Joseph cared for his brothers even though they sold him into slavery (Genesis 45:1-15). Moses prayed for Miriam's healing when they rebelled against his leadership (Numbers 12:1-16). Take special note of how David treated his enemies in Psalms 35:11-16.

            Jesus gives three reasons to love our enemies. First, God is impartial. He does not withhold all blessings from the wicked. Even the wicked deserve just treatment (Job 34:10-15). Second, if we only return kindness when we are treated kindly, how are we different from the rest of the world? Similarly, if we only love those with whom we have close relationships, what deeds of greatness have we done? Read Luke 6:27-35 again.

            Loving our enemies is not just taught in the Old Law. Stephen left us a beautiful example of love in Acts 7:59-60. Paul instructs us to bless our persecutors. We must make every effort to live in peace and harmony with all people. (Romans 12:14-21).


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