“…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;” – Matt. 5:44 KJV
The word “love” is probably the most frequently used word amongst Christians and non-Christians alike. Whether during arbitration or recommendations as to how man should live, the word keeps appearing. There is no surprise with this because in the affairs of men, God reigns supreme and His instructions for man remains the standard for happy living on this earth. So if God is love as the scripture indicates (1Jn. 4:7-21) then he should appear in every situation that intends to bring man irrespective of their religious inclinations back to the path that the creator himself has outlined.
The Jews in the time of Jesus were no different in their appreciation of love as a tool for cordial living except that they believe it applies only to relationships among fellow Jews as a non-Jew is everything but a friend and so should not have the benefit of being loved at least by them.
The Bible classifies people to be loved not in terms of religion, tribe or language but along the following three major lines: first is to love God (who is the love itself), second is to love oneself and third is to love neighbour – Matt. 22:36-40. The first two love relationships are implied if the individual involved is of sound mind. No matter what people may wish to call Him (God, Creator, Yahweh, etc.) man can only ignore God at his own peril as such disposition can only be a suicidal move. Such is what is being witnessed today where several years of ignoring God by rejecting His instructions (Jn. 14:15) has led earth to the precipice of calamity through climate change. Governments all over the world are now allocating huge resources to fight this great threat to human existence.
Governments are doing the above because they are knowledgeable enough to know that they need to do that if they love themselves. The love for oneself is the most predominant among men today. Actions are taken and love is preached with regards to how it benefits individual(s) or groups. This has no doubt created more problem as being egocentric has taken away the awareness that the discomfort of that person that is not considered will soon render all that love for oneself useless. The victim of the act of loving oneself will eventually become the obstacle for enjoying the proceeds of loving oneself.
Here lies the mystery of the comment of Jesus Christ when he stated the second law as loving one’s neighbour as oneself as seen in the third type of love relationship. It simply means that the effect of the love of yourself on the neighbour should guide what you do in the expression of love for yourself. Just consider how much you endanger yourself when you love yourself by continually bringing in different types food stuff into your home in the clear view of your very hungry neighbour especially that one that you consider your enemy. The implication is better imagined.
With the world becoming a global village that it is now, the boundary of neighbours (friends and enemies alike) are no longer limited to those living next door but has stretched to even countries and continents as activities in one end of the world is beginning to affect people at the other end of the world. What you think you are doing in your corner of the world as a result of loving yourself soon bounces back from the far ends of the world and the joy derived from such act will soon become short lived.
In today’s scripture, Jesus Christ includes in the list of those neighbours those enemies, those who curse you, hate you, despise you and persecute you with the advise that they deserve to be shown more love – Matt. 5:46. That you are seeing that person as an enemy does not mean that his/her activity will not adversely affect you if anything there is increased likelihood. Just as forgiveness is more to the advantage of the person that is forgiving in comparison to the one that is being forgiven, same is the situation when the individual is being told to love even “enemies”. It is to your advantage to love him/her and consider his/her interest before taking that your next decision that considers only the love you have for yourself as you will soon discover that you have become a victim of your short-sightedness. You will not be doing God or Jesus Christ a favour when you love that neighbour especially that one you classified as your enemy as your ignorance will soon bring its reward.
Your world is not influenced only by factors within the limits of your knowledge which formed the basis of that classification of who the friendly neighbour or the enemy is, so you must learn to love all without barrier. You may never know how much love you showed for yourself by loving that person you called your enemy.
May God grant us the ability to love without barrier in Jesus name. Amen.