Love Your Enemies

Reading the Word

Proverbs 25:21–22 (ESV)
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
22 for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The first line of this proverb is simple enough, but the second may seem kind of surprising, depending on how you interpret it. Some take the second line to mean that by doing good to our enemies, we heap up future punishment for them. This means that by doing good, we are secretly just waiting for their future punishment and our revenge. This seems like a strange way to understand this passage.

A better interpretation is to understand burning coals on the head as a picture of repentance. By loving our enemies and doing good for them, we can have a profound impact on them. Doing so may even lead our enemies to see the error of their ways and to a point of change, even looking to our God. Jesus calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-48). By doing so, we imitate what our Savior did for us and we put reaching the world with the Gospel as our top priority.


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Do Not Rejoice When Your Enemy Falls

Reading the Word

Proverbs 24:17–18 (ESV)
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It sure can be easy to find joy when those we do not like or who give us great difficulty are defeated or fail. However, we are told that this is not the attitude we should have towards our enemies. In fact, Jesus even tells us we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). In today’s proverb, we are told that rejoicing over the failure of another is an attitude that displeases God.

The world tells us that our enemies do not deserve our love. We should reserve our love for those who do good for us and who love us back. The Bible’s teaching on love is counter-cultural and difficult for many to accept. We are called to practice the same kind of love for others that Christ showed to us. What kind of love was that? Romans 6:8 tells us that “even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even while we were the enemies of God, Christ gave up his life for us. We are called to do the same for others as we point them to our Savior.


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Love Your Enemies

Matthew 544–45 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 5:43–48 (ESV)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Again, Jesus begins his teaching with the statement “You have heard that it was said.” Jesus intends to show that the religious leaders, who were the teachers of God’s word, had misunderstood the Scriptures. The Pharisees had understood Leviticus 19:18, which states that God’s people should love their neighbor, as referring only to fellow Israelites. The Pharisees did not feel that there was a need to also show love to other people groups.

In our verses for today, Jesus sheds light on the true intention of the command to love our neighbors. He tells us that it applies to all people, both friend and foe. In Luke 10:29 Jesus is asked to clarify how “neighbor” should be understood. In response, he tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which teaches that our neighbors include all people, including those of different ethnicity and faith.

It is easy to love those who are like us. It is much harder to love those we disagree with or who are different than us. Jesus calls us to imitate the Father who shows his love every day for both the righteous and the unrighteous. As Christians, we should be known for our great love for others. May that be our reputation as we live in this world as representatives of our Lord.

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