Loving Those You Do Not Like

KEY VERSE: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” —Matthew 5:43,44

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 5:21-26, 38-45

THERE is no other divinely approved way for the Christian except the way of love, or charity, as the Apostle Paul expressed it in I Corinthians, chapter 13. Charity is the act of giving where there is no expectation of receiving payment in return. It is giving for the joy received from the thought of having done something for the blessing of others—even those who might be considered enemies. In the Creator himself, we have the greatest of all examples of this expression of love.

The entire human race, born in sin and misshapen in iniquity, were and are objects of His love. They were undone, disbelievers, many even blasphemers of His name and righteous ways and all were hopelessly dying. God, recognizing the need, made a gift—a gift of love—he gave his Son in order that the people might live.

While it is the privilege of each one of the race, when learning of God’s great love, to dedicate himself to the service of the Lord, there is nothing any of us can do in return for God’s gift that will enrich him. God’s gift was purely one of love, and in it we have a perfect example of what it means to walk in the way of love. Jesus, as the living expression of God while on earth, taught his disciples that their lives would have to be lived by these same guidelines.

The Apostle John wrote: “Love not the world, neither the things in the world.” (I John 2:15-17) The world is in darkness, one of the contributing causes of which is the fact that it does not follow the way of love. Light is used in the Scriptures to symbolize that which is in harmony with God, while darkness represents that which is contrary to the will of God. The divine plan is “light,” because it is God’s plan, while all teachings out of harmony with the divine plan are darkness. The same is true of practices based upon truth or upon error. The world is in darkness because it follows the way of selfishness.

The true followers of Jesus, enlightened by the divine plan and walking in the way of love as revealed in that plan, are said to be walking in the “light.” These find themselves out of harmony with the world and its spirit of selfishness and have no love for it. However they must love the people in the world just as God does, and they are happy to lay down their lives with Jesus in order that they might later reign with him for the blessing of the people; but they are out of harmony with the selfish ways of the world. They are glad that the selfish world will pass away—come to an end.

As Jesus delves deeper into the subject of love, he uncovers another heart-searching fact concerning it, in the question, “If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?” (Matt. 5:46) At first glance it might appear that Jesus is here discounting somewhat the importance of his own new commandment to love our brethren, indicating that there is no sacrifice involved in loving those who love us.

But does the commandment to love one another, which Jesus gave us, imply that we love only those who love us? Surely not! Note, for example, his added explanation, “as I have loved you.” Our love for one another is to be the same kind of love, and to operate under similar conditions, as Jesus’ love for us. When we take this into consideration the whole viewpoint of that new commandment is broadened considerably, for divine love through Christ was exercised on our behalf “while we were yet sinners,” that is, long before we were in a position to love him.—Rom. 5:8

The divine plan for the followers of Jesus whereby they would have the privilege of exercising love for one another upon the same basis as Jesus loved them, is outlined by the Master himself in his command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, for the purpose of making disciples. These disciples which are to be made through the ministry of the truth are our prospective brethren. They are brethren for whom we have the privilege of sacrificing while they are still sinners and sometimes enemies and persecutors, even as Jesus thus laid down his life for us.

“He that loveth not his brother abideth in death,” John wrote. The way of love is truly the way of life, both now and forever.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |