Scott Tibbs
blog post
August 21st, 2005

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Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen.

In Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus tells us:
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.
Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen. Why don't you just tell me to lift an M-1 Abrams tank over my head?

God also commands us in Mark 11:25-26 to forgive those who have sinned against us. The Lord says "if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." This is not to say that salvation requires something more than faith, but it is an important test of whether or not we are actually in the Kingdom.

As a political activist, Matthew 5:43-45 hits home for me. I have been on the receiving end of some extremely dirty politics. It is very difficult not to hate your enemies when they have treated you in a reprehensible manner, far beyond simple words. And yet, God not only commands us to forgive our enemies and commands us not to hate them, but He tells us we are to love them.

Wow. That is a tough one. Not hating those who have sinned against you, and actually forgiving them, is one thing. It does not hurt those who have wronged you if you hold onto your anger. Anger and bitterness eats away at you. It hurts those around you, causing the most pain to whose who are closest to you. Holding on to all those negative emotions can cause you to be physically sick. There are many good reasons to forgive those who have sinned against you, and many good reasons to not hate them.

But God goes farther. Does he actually expect us to love them?

Matthew 5:43-45 and Mark 11:25-26, as my remark indicates, are two of the most difficult passages in Scripture to deal with. The Lord's commandment goes directly against basic human nature. How are we supposed to do something that is 180 degrees from how we are naturally inclined?

When we repent of our sins and ask Jesus Christ to come into our hearts, we are forgiven and when God looks on us He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But it does not end there! Justification is a one-time event, but sanctification takes a lifetime. Sanctification does not stop until our lives are over.

We trust God to justify us, but we must also trust God to work in us and cleanse us of the sins that cause us to stumble and fall. Of course, we will never be free of sin, but we can walk closer to Christ. The way we do that is to pray, study His Word, and fellowship with other Believers, among other things. But the most important part of sanctification is relying on the power of God to conquer sin.

For examples of forgiveness, look at the Bible. Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the Creator of everything, but He was scorned and hated by many. The same crowds that cheered Him when he entered Jerusalem were screaming for His death just days later. Our Lord was tortured to death, yet He forgave the Roman soldiers while He was hanging from the Cross!

Forgiving and loving those who hurt us cannot be done without the power of the Holy Spirit. We have to trust the Lord to guide us and ask Him for strength. We are weak, but He is strong; only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we live closer to God. We need to recognize that we need God's power not only for our justification, but for every moment of our daily lives.