Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT)
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, 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.
The past few years have given me a serious wake-up call as God has checked my attitude regarding what I thought to be “spiritual warfare.” Responding with love and with prayer towards people who gossip, lie, and slander me — those people who harass and attack me and hate me — isn’t always easy to do. And in the past, I haven’t responded the Biblical way. And in the present, I sometimes still struggle with responding in a Biblical fashion.
But I’ve since learned that if my “spiritual warfare” has me engaged in sending curses towards other people (even if I think I’m using scripture as the foundation for those curses), stabbing them with my so-called “sword of the spirit,” praying to have their “silver cord” cut, siccing “angels” on them, or any other retaliatory “warfare” methods, then I’m not following this basic law that Jesus Christ gave to us: to love and pray for those people who are sending curses my way, who hate me, who lie about me, and who are persecuting me in various ways.
Now to those who have made themselves my enemy through their hateful actions and words: don’t get this love twisted! Loving and praying for you does not mean that if you have brought harm to me and are bringing harm to others, that I will not speak out. This does not mean that if you are teaching and promoting false doctrine, that I will stay silent. And neither does this mean that I will choose to have a relationship with you, allowing you to continue harming me, because I have learned to stay away from toxic people and toxic situations.
But this simply means that even as you attack me in whatever temporal ways you are able, that I will sincerely and fervently pray that the Spirit of God will open your eyes to the truth, that you will repent before the Father, and that you will be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ. And I will sincerely and fervently pray that you will learn the peace that comes from submitting yourself to Him and to His will, and that you will learn the joy of walking in obedience to His Word.
For this is the will of the Father: that no one would perish, but that all would come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
And so this is the love I show to my enemies: a love that prays for their salvation, their healing, and their deliverance, no matter what evil they commit against me or others; and a love that desires the will of the Father to be done in their lives over and above all else.
Love (in this passage of Scripture):
Strong’s Greek 25 (https://biblehub.com/greek/25.htm)
agapaó: to love
Definition: I love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem.
HELPS Word-studies (follow link above to read the entire selection):
agapáō – properly, to prefer, to love; for the believer, preferring to “live through Christ” (1 Jn 4:9,10), i.e. embracing God’s will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power.
With the believer, agapáō (“to love”) means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (by His power and direction). True agapáō (“loving”) is always defined by God – a “discriminating affection which involves choice and selection”. 1 Jn 4:8,16,17 for example convey how loving (“preferring,” agapáō) is Christ living His life through the believer.
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