The supreme proof of genuine Christianity is loving our enemies. Jesus established this high standard in contrast with the prevalent idea of His time. From the commandment,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18, NKJV), many had inferred something the Lord never said or planned: you shall hate your enemy. Of course, that wasn’t implied in the text itself.
In what practical ways is love toward our enemies manifested, according to Christ? See Luke 6:27-28.
An adversary can show us enmity in three different ways: by a hostile attitude (
hate you), through bad words (
curse you) and with abusive actions (
spitefully use you and persecute you [Matt. 5:44, NKJV]). To this threefold expression of enmity, Christ instructs us to respond with three manifestations of love: doing good actions to them (
do good to them), speaking well of them (
bless them), and interceding before God for them (
pray for them). The Christian’s answer to hostility and antagonism is to
overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).
Notice: Jesus requests us first to love our foes and then, as a result, to demonstrate this love through good actions, kind words, and intercessory prayer. Without heaven-inspired love, those actions, words, and prayers would be an offensive and hypocritical forgery of true Christianity.
What reasons did Jesus mention to explain why we have to love our enemies? See Luke 6:32-35.
In order to help us to understand this high command, the Lord used three arguments. First, we need to live above the low standards of the world. Even sinners love each other, and even criminals help each other. If following Christ doesn’t raise us to live and love in a way superior to the virtue of the children of this world, what would its value be? Second, God will reward us for loving our enemies; even though we do not love for the reward, He will grant it graciously to us. And third, this type of love is an evidence of our close communion with our heavenly Father, who
is kind to the unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35, NKJV).