Disciple Up #250
Ukraine: Love Your Enemies
By Louie Marsh
Introduction: Give what’s happening in the Ukraine today, not to mention Myanmar (Burma) and many other places, I thought it was well past time to take a close look at how loving our enemies fits into wars and other situations where violence seems to be the only way to defend the innocent and stop evil from murder and destruction on a mass scale.
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Scripture Does Not Teach Pacifism:
“14Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”” (Luke 3:14, ESV)
“36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”” (John 18:36, ESV)
“3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:3–4, ESV)
Jesus Did Teach We Owe Our Government Something
“15Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.” (Matthew 22:15–22, ESV)
“13Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” (1 Peter 2:13–14, ESV)
Does this include military service? Does this mean I must kill for my country when I believe the cause is just?
“27“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 32“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27–36, ESV)
Sermon outtakes on Luke 6:20-31
But notice when Jesus gives us a list of seven ways we should behave toward our enemies, forgiveness isn’t one of them. He says do good to them, bless them, pray for them, offer the other cheek, give to them, let them take from you, do not ask for restitution. But he doesn’t say “forgive.” Why not? I think the answer is, because he is talking about hatred and abuse and violence that is still going on. To forgive something that is still going on is a kind of category mistake. Jesus gives us plenty of ways to respond and engage while the hostile and cruel and destructive actions are still going on. But forgiveness has to wait until the activity is over. You can’t forgive something that is still going on, because that seems to be saying that what is going on is the whole story and therefore that it’s somehow ok. This is the force, it seems to me, behind the mother in the baptism story saying about the person who had dominated her life and overshadowed her relationship with God, “ BUT JESUS DID – Father forgive them …
So what does loving mean, in the face of hatred and hostility, if it doesn’t mean being a doormat and it doesn’t mean a warm feeling? It means carefully and doggedly, not passionately or sentimentally, following the words of Jesus and the seven actions he commends to us. First, “Do good to those who hate you.” Say by your actions, “However much you hate me I will never hate you.” Remember this will end. Don’t let these people turn you into a monster. Repay evil with good. Second, “Bless those who hate you.” Mind your speech. Try not to lose your temper. Think of those who are hating and hurting you and see them as tiny children they once were, longing for trust and safety, and speak to them as if they were still those children. Third, “Pray for those who abuse you.” As I have said, sometimes abuse is incredibly difficult to become disentangled from. Remember God is always as much a part of any story as you are. In prayer, ask God to be made present not just to you but to your enemy. Fourth, “Offer the other cheek.” In other words, not just don’t get into a fight, because then there’ll be no difference between you and them, but don’t let those who hate you think you can be intimidated by violence. Offering the other cheek means saying “I’m not going to accept that violence trumps everything else.” Fifth, “Don’t withhold your shirt.” In other words, surprise your enemy with your generosity, and thus show your enemies you have not become like them. Sixth, “Give to everyone who begs.” Remember that, even when you can only think of how you’ve been hurt, there is always someone worse off than you, and reaching out to them is a way of rescuing yourself from self-pity. And seventh, “Don’t ask for your property back.” I think this means remember you will lose everything when you die so start living toward your possessions in such a way that they don’t determine who you are. When we reach the end of this list we realize that what Jesus has just described is what is about to happen to him
“43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so 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. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43–48, ESV)
“14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:14–21, ESV
Loving of enemies is always directed at INDIVIDUALS and their dealings with PERSONAL foes. Nowhere did Jesus tell us what the GOVERNMENT should do about war and bloodshed.
This is True in BOTH Testaments:
“5If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.” (Exodus 23:5, ESV)
“17Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. 19Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, 20for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” (Proverbs 24:17–20, ESV)
“29“If I have rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me, or exulted when evil overtook him 30(I have not let my mouth sin by asking for his life with a curse),” (Job 31:29–30, ESV)
So We Must Submit to Our Governing Authorities…
“1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (Romans 13:1–7, ESV
…Unless they Contradict God’s Word
“27And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27–29, ESV)
SO, WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE?
Can I love my enemy and kill him to protect the innocent and restrain evil?
My Dad’s story, and many other’s who’ve fought war as well.
Classic illustration: Someone breaks into your house and is going to rape and kill your children. You have a gun, do you shoot him?
The painful reality of choosing the Lesser of Two Evils.
It’s bad to allow someone to be killed, BUT it’s also bad to kill. In the above, no-win situation, what do you do? Most would say use the gun and I would agree with that. We have to choose between the lesser of two evil’s.
But it’s done as a last resort, in sorrow and with as little personal hatred as possible.
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