Love Thine Enemy

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; that ye may be the children of your Father, which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

— Matthew 5:43-48

Each man must ask, “Is my neighbor indeed my enemy, or am I my neighbor’s enemy, and so take him to be mine? Awful thought! Of, if he be mine, am I not his? Am I not refusing to acknowledge the child of the kingdom within his bosom, so killing the child of the kingdom within my own?” We are accountable for the ill in ourselves and have to kill it, and for seeing the good in our neighbor, that we might cherish it. He only, in the name and power of God, can kill the bad in him; we can cherish the good in him by being good to it across all the evil fog that comes between our love and his good. Nor ought it to be forgotten that this fog is often the result of misapprehension and mistake. O brother, sister, across this weary fog, I call to the divine in thee, not to say, “Why hatest thou me?” but to say, “In God’s name, I love thee.” And I will wait until the true self looks out of thine eyes, and knows the true self in me.

And again I ask, what if we are in the wrong and do the wrong, and hate because we have injured? What then? Why, then, let us cry to God as from the throat of hell; struggle as if possessed of an evil spirit; call out, as one buried alive, from the sepulcher of our evil consciousness, that God would take pity upon us, the chief of sinners. Nothing will help but the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, casting out and revealing. It will be with a terrible cry and a lying as one dead, that such a demon will go out. But what a vision will then arise in the depths of the purified soul! 

Commentary

by Leah Bond

My heart is in anguish within me; 
the terrors of death have fallen on me. 
Fear and trembling have beset me; 
horror has overwhelmed me. 
— Psalm 55 v.4,5 (because of his enemy)

I want to start by acknowledging simply, the enemy and their threats and power to destroy are real. To know the words, to personally experience anguish, terrors of death, fear and trembling, horror, is to be faced with an enemy.  Most of us reading this do not experience this as David and Christ did. Some of us have. Yet we all have been enemies and have suffered as a consequence. 

Psalm 55
Listen to my prayer, O God, 
     do not ignore my plea; 
     hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
     because of what my enemy is saying, 
     because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
     and assail me in their anger. 

My heart is in anguish within me; 
     the terrors of death have fallen on me. 
Fear and trembling have beset me;
     horror has overwhelmed me. 
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
     I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
     and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
     far from the tempest and storm.” 

Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
     for I see violence and strife in the city. 
Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
     malice and abuse are within it. 
Destructive forces are at work in the city;
     threats and lies never leave its streets. 

If an enemy were insulting me,
     I could endure it; 
if a foe were rising against me,
     I could hide. 
But it is you, a man like myself,
     my companion, my close friend, 
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
     at the house of God,
as we walked about
     among the worshipers. 

Let death take my enemies by surprise;
     let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
for evil finds lodging among them. 

As for me, I call to God,
     and the LORD saves me. 
Evening, morning and noon
     I cry out in distress,
     and he hears my voice. 
He rescues me unharmed
     from the battle waged against me,
     even though many oppose me. 
God, who is enthroned from of old,
     who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
     because they have no fear of God. 

My companion attacks his friends;
     he violates his covenant. 
His talk is smooth as butter,
     yet war is in his heart; 
his words are more soothing than oil,
     yet they are drawn swords.

Cast your cares on the LORD
     and he will sustain you;
he will never let
     the righteous be shaken. 
But you, God, will bring down the wicked
     into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
     will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you.

Verse 15--Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the realm of the dead, for evil finds lodging among them. Let them go down alive, for evil finds lodging among them--this image is a powerful clue to the purpose of the realm of the dead, because evil finds lodging among them.  Lodged in their hearts minds and beings is the enemy, but it can be separated, removed.  What is clear is that Love is the power that accomplishes the ultimate purpose, to destroy powers of destruction.

The March 23rd devotion asks us to question our own hearts, to probe our spiritual position, our perspective of ourselves. MacDonald reverses our perspective, to ask, am I the enemy? For all, the answer is yes, I am, have been, and will be to someone, to God, the Christ in the face of another as they approach me, my most dearly loved neighbor and my greatest and most vicious enemy... I have been the persecutor and abuser and also have returned evil for evil.  Yet God has never ceased loving me.

Macdonald shows, that what buries our "divine vision" is our own "ill." not that of another.  

The Matthew Henry Commentary says of Matthew Ch. 5: "God maketh his sun to rise, and sendeth rain, on the just and the unjust, v. 45. Note, First, Sunshine and rain are great blessings to the world, and they come from God. It is his sun that shines, and the rain is sent by him. They do not come of course, or by chance, but from God. Secondly, Common mercies must be valued as instances and proofs of the goodness of God, who in them shows himself a bountiful Benefactor to the world of mankind, who would be very miserable without these favours, and are utterly unworthy of the least of them. Thirdly, These gifts of common providence are dispensed indifferently to good and evil, just and unjust; so that we cannot know love and hatred by what is before us, but by what is within us; not by the shining of the sun on our heads, but by the rising of the Sun of Righteousness in our hearts." (emphasis mine) 

Super Natural Love, Kingdom Love, our part in bringing the kingdom to our hearts, and pouring out this into the world, is our being the sons and daughters of the King.

Sunshine and rain bring life.                                               

Sunshine and rain are not ours to give. Sunshine and rain are given without judgement. Thankfully, God's love for us is not dependent on our status as enemy, we would all have been destroyed by the outer darkness of the void of Life, if God were to be other than the author of "Love thine enemy..."

How can we come, without originating life to offer, and yet seek to place ourselves higher than the originator of love, Love itself, and using our own meager finite measuring cup, pulling from our own small cistern, and declare our enemy is not to receive from God, because we have not enough to give, and so take occasion to deny Love to either friend or enemy? This will make us an enemy to God first, by being contrary to Him, who doesn't stop offering rescue to the most evil of sinners.  God knows the power of his Love to make truth, to heal, is greater than the power of the enemy to destroy. 

Here is the source of our Life, the life of the world, we must be in Christ, from March 23 entry: "Nothing will help but the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son." We must come from God, be born of God through the "rising of the Sun of Righteousness in our hearts" (Matthew Henry) to love the one who is our enemy, God's enemy.