One of the most challenging orders Jesus gives is, “Love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:27-38).

While the root story is the same, Matthew tells the story to encourage holiness, while Luke tells the story to encourage mercy.

Now, all this stretches my logic and emotions almost to the breaking point. Paul, however, makes it even harder!

“Those who tell the message about Christ out of love know that God has put me here to defend the Good News. But the others are insincere. They tell the message about Christ out of selfish ambition in order to stir up trouble for me while I’m in prison. But what does it matter? Nothing matters except that, in one way or another, people are told the message about Christ, whether with honest or dishonest motives, and I’m happy about that. Yes, I will continue to be happy. Live as citizens who reflect the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come to see you or whether I stay away, I’ll hear all about you. I’ll hear that you are firmly united in spirit, united in fighting for the faith that the Good News brings. So don’t let your opponents intimidate you in any way” (Philippians 1:16-18, 27-28a God’s Word).

jesus-love-your-enemies-lgGod shows Paul that those who pretend to follow Christ only to make trouble for true believers remain as enemies. Yet Paul expresses happiness at this situation. Even malicious witnesses, fake healers, power-motivated pastors and Spirit-missing religious organizations talk about Jesus. They help to spread the word even when they intend to hinder God’s plan.

So does that mean that religious people who have done great harm to me should be a source of happiness because when they aren’t destroying me they use words that refer to Jesus?


Those with “dishonest motives” and “selfish ambition” can have their malice transformed midair into a seed planted for Jesus.

loveyourenemiesI’m just starting to get the hang of compassion for my enemies as I see their lost state. (“I have often told you, and now tell you with tears in my eyes, that many live as the enemies of the cross of Christ. In the end they will be destroyed” [Philippians 3:18-19a God’s Word]). Now God wants me to learn happiness from these persecutors who voice the name of Jesus!

Maybe I’ll just close my Bible, put my fingers in my ears, close my eyes, and pretend I didn’t read that.

What would you do?