“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Gal. 5:22).
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn. 13:34–35).
We are told to love our brothers in Christ. This love tells all of the non-brothers that we are followers of Jesus Christ. This is indirect evangelism. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:39b).
Our neighbor may not be a Christian. We are to love him because he is a neighbor.
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk. 6:27–36).
We are also to love our enemies. Jesus tells us to love them and to express that love in these ways:
- Do good to them.
- Bless them.
- Pray for them.
- Give to them.
- Lend to them.
· Jesus does not tell us why to love our enemies, only that by doing so we will be imitating our Father. Romans 5:10 tells us what happened when we were God’s enemies:
“For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Rom. 5:10).
When we were enemies of God, He loved us. What was the result? We were saved. That is why we are to love our enemies—for their salvation.
When speaking at men’s conferences, I often ask this question: “How many of you came to the Father through 1) mass evangelism, 2) a local church, 3) family, 4) reading the Bible, 5) reading books, or 6) a friend?” Several men raise their hands for each of these.
Then I ask, “How many of you received Christ because someone loved you?” Nearly everyone raises their hand. The greatest positive emotion in the world is love, and the greatest love in the world is the love of the Father.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:8–10).
The greatest expression of love in the history of the world is the death of Jesus. So when we proclaim His death, we should do it with lovefor the person we are speaking to. Presenting the gospel to someone without loving him makes the good news sound like bad news. Even if you are knocking on a stranger’s door or sitting next to someone you do not know on a plane, decide to love him from your heart before you open your mouth. If God loved the world, then we can love one person through His grace.
Here is how Paul expressed loving and identifying with people:
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:19–22).
*Excerpted from Weapons & Tactics. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.