Jesus teaches that we must love our enemies. This is what would set us apart from the rest of the world. How can we do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us and pray for those who spitefully use us? “To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.” This teaching must have been hard for those who heard it. How could the people of Israel love the Romans who were oppressing them? Why would any one let him/herself be struck in the face?
Yet this is what Jesus was calling those who wanted to be a part of God’s family to do. This brings to mind what Paul wrote in the book of Romans. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:6-10). Even when we were His enemies God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins.
When Jesus was in front of the soldiers, they mocked Him, spat on Him, pulled His beat and struck Him yet He did not resist. “I gave My back to those who struck [Me], And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed” (Isaiah 50:6, 7).
When He was on the cross He asked the Father to forgive those who mocked and insulted Him. He died on the cross for everyone–including His enemies.
Jesus wants us to be different from the unbelievers. “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back” (Luke 6:33, 34). When we treat our enemies well instead of the way they would expect, they would be astounded and who knows they might become curious, providing us with the opportunity to share our faith with them.
Paul urges us to behave like Christians. “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “ If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).
What does it mean to heap coals of fire on a person’s head? It means that if as a Christian you do good to your enemy instead of taking revenge this may bring about his/her repentance. Strong’s Concordance gives this definition: A proverbial expression signifying to call up, by favours you confer on your enemy, the memory in him of the wrong he has done you (which shall pain him as if live coals were heaped on his head), that he may the more readily repent. The Arabians call things that cause very acute mental pain “burning coals of the heart” and “fire of the liver”.
The Christian conduct must be above reproach at all times so as not to incite unbelievers into ridiculing our faith which would tarnish the Gospel. “…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15, 16). Basically we are to behave like our heavenly Father who is merciful and kind to everyone, including those who are ungrateful and wicked.
It is easy for us to judge people. We are quick to point out their faults yet how would we feel if the tables were turned? Jesus spoke this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:39-42).
A speck is smaller than a plank. Jesus is saying we look at the little flaw or fault our brother or sister has yet we do not acknowledge our own flaws which are staring us in the face. How we are able to see past our faults and zero in on those of others is incredible. We need to deal with our own issues before we should even think about dealing with someone else’s.
Jesus is right. How can a person with a plank in his eye lead someone with a speck in his? How can a person who is sinning expect the other person to listen to them? How could one person say to another “Stop stealing from your workplace” when that person is committing adultery or lied on an application? There will come a time God’s people will judge the world and the fallen angels (1 Corinthians 6:2, 3). However, while we are still here on earth, only God has the right to judge anyone.