Luk 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
We saw an example in last Friday’s post of how “christian” fiction and fantasy does great harm, especially to victims of abuse as it hides in the church. That example, published at Our Daily Bread (odb.org) referenced a fictional book that portrayed a suffering Christian man touching his persecutor and thereby healing the wicked man’s physical ailment. Wow! How incredible! Yes, it is IN-credible. UN-believable. Because it is fiction. Yet, how often are victims of evil given these kinds of fiction to make them stay in the abuse, supposedly so that they can heal the evil heart of their abuser?
What did Jesus mean? When He tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us?
Well, as always, we must look at the context of any passage of Scripture we are trying to understand. Here it is:
Luk 6:22-36 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! (23) Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
(24) “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. (25) “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. (26) “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
(27) “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, (28) bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. (29) To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. (30) Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. (31) And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
(32) “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. (33) And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. (34) And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.
(35) But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (36) Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
The most important point to see here is that Jesus is instructing us how to respond to those who are our enemies. To people who hate us. Notice the phrase on account of the Son of Man. Jesus is NOT addressing how we are to deal with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He is not instructing us about a false Christian brother who is hiding behind a disguise, putting himself off as a fine Christian. Nope. Jesus is teaching us about enemies who are our enemies because we are Christians.
Notice also very carefully that right in the middle of this instruction about loving our enemies, Jesus pronounces intense woes upon His enemies (vss 24-26). If we are to imitate God, then somehow strongly admonishing the wicked is something else that we do! We all know that Jesus very often pronounced divine woes of wrath upon His enemies and told them they were children of the devil (see John 8 for instance).
Let me suggest to you what Jesus means when He tells us to love our enemies. First of all, understand that He is NOT speaking about, for instance, a counterfeit Christian “brother” such as so many domestic abusers are that you all have been targeted by. No. In fact, here is how the Lord tells us to handle THAT kind of enemy:
1Co 5:11-13 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (12) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
See it? Put him out. Step away from him. Hand him over to Satan by excluding him from the church. This is how you deal with the “so-called” brother. You don’t just “touch him” and “love-bomb him.” All that the sociopath will do in response is mark you as a fool and as an easy target to be deceived and used.
No, here in Luke Jesus is addressing how we deal with evil people who hate us because we follow Christ whom they hate. How do we love them? Here is a perfect and scriptural example:
Exo 23:4-5 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. (5) If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.
There it is. It is the same thing as we see in the account of the Good Samaritan. You don’t leave your enemy lying there injured and bleeding when you come across him in his crashed car. If his cows get out of their fence, you go round them up. This is how you deal with this kind of enemy.
But the abuser who hides in our churches leading the little ones astray, abusing his wife behind the scenes? That wicked man or woman who claims to be a fine Christian but unrepentantly walks in sin? Is that the enemy Jesus is talking about here in Luke? No! He is talking about people who make no claim at all to be Christians. He is talking about the world and its citizens who hate Christ and hate His people.
If we take His words here and apply them to how we are to deal with the wolves in wool that we are helping victims get free of, then we are going to do GREAT harm to the oppressed and we are going to end up in practice being allies of the abuser.
Wow! Thank you Pastor for explaining those Scriptures so well that I finally understand them and don’t feel I fall short anymore. I see the difference now. The thought of heaping kindnesses and endless generosities to my abusers was something I could not do. It would, as you pointed out, invite them to abuse me more! They’d be thinking I was such a fool and dupe by responding that way. “Let’s go even further with our evil/abuses!”
But enemies of Jesus and of Christians who don’t falsely profess to be “good christians” are much easier to treat with basic kindnesses-as in all we do we represent Christ and we do it as unto Him.
A very “freeing” explanation. Thank you Pastor.
no one down here
Thank you! Context is everything. Not sure why it seems so obvious when laid out like that, but yet for er-hem number of years, something else was taught AND believed. Regardless, this is really great timing for me…
The movie “Fireproof” comes to mind as an example of fiction in way you are describing. The basic premise of completing a list of prescribed tasks to elicit “healing” is a fantasy that has further injured many women. In fact, for several women I know, the noose of abuse only got tighter and tighter as the list was followed.
Thank you for your dedication to explaining these scriptures well, so that victims and survivors can be freed from the church narrative that is more often binding than helpful.
Yes. I cringed at Fireproof and its related genre
No one down here
Funny enough, as contrived as those movies are, my spouse would not watch them. But I can see how someone who has no experience in abuse trauma would think stories like this contain the secrets of a good marriage, and if those struggling would only follow those steps… all would be good. The trick is that healthy people doing the right thing are going to keep doing the right thing. A story might help them have a greater sense of creativity…. but just like the rest of Scripture, there are no prescribed steps to accomplishing godliness. It has to be a work of grace that God does in the heart. All the “works” are going to flow out of that.
There is no magic.
AMEN!!! Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for presenting this truth so clearly. May God bless you and your family!
Thank you AFJ
Yes this stuff is rampant. As a new Christian in an abusive relationship with a wolf in church leadership, I had to sort thru this hogwash disguised as theology. No wonder I was confused. The fog was so thick. Thanks Pastor Crippen for clearing the fog.
This was a very helpful clarification of this passage so thank you. As I try to get my head around some of this tho I also hear the push back of the NT passage that talk of restoring a repentant sinner who has been shunned and these used to quickly restore and welcome back the offenders. This was the church can pat itself on the back that they put the sinner out of the congregation but were able to successfully restore them to Christ and show everyone watching the gospel of Jesus worked out for all to see. Really trying hard here to not be sarcastic, but the irony of being the one harmed turned into the sinner because I can’t get on board with this scenario was traumatizing in so many ways I still haven’t recovered from. I don’t want to be unforgiving and ungracious where I’ve received so much from my Lord, but some of these passages seem contradictory as well. So put out of the church and shun the evil man, but for how long? 2 months? 4 months? How long does a double life deserve? Hebrews seems to indicate a rather serious indictment of this kind of behavior, but the passage of Paul urging the church to restore the shunned brother are always the ones paraded out for congregations to get behind. I don’t know, I find it all so confusing and am incredibly disillusioned by most of the church and am not sure if I can ever feel safe there again.
no one down here
If it is truly an evil man… he should be cast out. The end. I understand how there can be difficulty discerning who is truly evil to the core or who could be “redeemable.” But, if the person has been claiming Christ, quoting Scripture… for years… that person knew better. No person could know Christ and behave in a harmful way toward a sister. This is not a thing. It’s not really about “how long does a double life deserve…” It’s about getting rid of evil. Look at Jude even. Jude talks about who the apostate is.
According to Jude, the apostate is:
the children of Israel who had seen the mighty miracles, but ended up disbelieving God.
Cain – who was definitely raised in “Christian home” hello, Adam and Eve…
Balaam. He was an Israeli prophet, for crying out loud.
Korah – a levite. a priest.
The common denominator for all these people is a knowledge of who God is, Christian upbringing. Christian service … Claiming the name of Christ, so to speak. but yet, they were actually evil. They rejected God. This is blasphemy; this is apostasy. Jude says a whole lot more… these people are complainers, they act according to their lust, they are great talkers, they gain the admiration of men… but they are mockers who have denied God.
These people, you get rid of. They don’t get a second chance. God says that the “blackness of darkness forever” is reserved for these people.