Monday, January 27, 2014

Loving Your Enemy

First and greatest Commandment - Love the Lord God with all yr heart, soul, strength, etc.
Second like it - love neighbor as yourself

Christians are clearly called, directed to LOVE our fellowman...
1)  the Brethren - John 13:34-35 - brothers and sisters in Christ
2)  your Neighbor - Matt. 22:37-39 - are you being a neighbor?
3)  the Stranger - Lev. 19:33-34
4)  your Enemy - Matt. 5:43-44 - those who persecute, spitefully use you, etc.

Is one thing to love - parents, spouse, children, neighbors, friends, etc.
BUT, How To Love the unlovely??  my opponent??  my ENEMY? 

Definition of AGAPE is not stergo (family type), phileo (brotherly), eros (sexual)....
                                  IS - giving, other-center - love of the will.  It is chosen (in spite of feelings), deliberate, impartial, active (love with the hands),

AGAPE chooses to act properly .... in imitation of God and Christ - Matt. 5:43-38,  Eph. 5:1-2

Therefore, AGAPE:
1)  Recognizes a person's value (made in God's image, eternal, paid for)
2)  Desires that person's good (chooses as act of will) - 1 Tim. 2:3-4   ( Ezek.  33:11 )
(God never wishes damnation n anyone)
3)  Acts Accordingly - Matt. 5:43-38

On one hand this is very difficult with serious enemies ( honestly bent of our destruction or extreme harm)
Example:  enemy soldier, murderer, home-intruder.  Prob. 98% of the time, the enemy we encounter will not be serious enemy.

However, Not so difficult with a common enemy - (politics, financial, slander, jerk) - most of the time, our enemy = just people we don't like.
Can act toward these in Agape if choose to.

AGAPE - description/application:
1 Cor. 13:4-7
Ex. 23:4-5
Prov. 24:17-18
Job 31:29-30
Rom. 12:17-21
1 Pet. 3:9
This is NOT stergo, phileo, eros, BUT = AGAPE

I.  Loving Your Common Enemy (political, social, religious, financial, philosophical)  (Example: gay marriage, gun rights, etc)

A.  Recognize his value - (image of God, eternal, paid for - here by God's decree)
B.  Recognize the good in him - (worst of people have some good in them) - often different viewpoint but comparable morals overall!!
C.  Recognize the evil in yourself
D.  Seek his good - Matt. 5:44
E.  Act Accordingly - 1 John 3:17-18
F.  Treat him with respect - 1 Cor. 13:4-8 - because made in the image of God

This does NOT mean you must seek his company, enjoy his friendship, agree with his position.
It does NOT mean you must accept his behavior, grant his request, greet with a 'holy kiss'.

It DOES mean - act toward him in a Godly, Christ-like manner!!

II.  Loving Your Serious Enemy ( soldier, murderer, home intruder, etc)

On one hand, same as above (as non-serious enemy)
However, FAR more difficult - to discern how and to apply.

So, add
1.  Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  John 16:13 - (God is not absent, indifferent, impotent)

2.  Be open to "sufficient grace" - in the time of need.   2 Cor. 12:8-9

Question:  Does Agape have limits?  boundaries?
Answer:  in quantity - NO, in distance - Yes.
Example:  God seeks good - But also lets people choose, lets people go!!   He often says "NO", or "ENOUGH" -- example:  Sodom and Gomorrah
He punishes evil, disciplines His children, etc.

Question?  What about Anger?  
Answer:  BE CAREFUL!!   James 1:19-20 - God IS CAPABLE of righteous anger.  You and I, not so much.

Question?  What about force?  war?  execution?  justifiable homicide?
Answer?  Agape is central, but is not the only issue to consult!!
Example:  school hostage situation - Agape?  or Sanctity of life?

"Love your enemy" = difficult concept - to grasp, practice.
BUT, don't let what you don't know keep you from obeying what you do know!!

This = High Standard!!!!
BUT, to this we are called, for this we strive, by this we measure.   John 13:34-35

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