Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
How should we deal with those who hate and fight against us? Two passages from the Sermon on the Mount are worthy of our consideration.
First, consider Matthew 5:38-42. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also….” A slap to the right cheek would be a backhanded blow, a great sign of disrespect in the time of the New Testament. The cloak was an outer garment that was used for warmth and even bedding in the open field. Roman soldiers had the ability to compel a person to carry a load for them up to one mile. Jesus commanded more–go the extra mile! Each of these items illustrates God’s desire for His people to forego retaliation.
Second consider Matthew 5:44. Jesus said, “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” The conventional wisdom of the day suggested love for those who love you (your neighbor) and hatred for those who hate you (your enemy). Jesus turned that wisdom on its head by commanding us to love all people, and especially those who do not love us in return. Notice the 4 imperatives in the passage–love, bless, do good, and pray! Each of these suggests action with love as the foundation.
How does God desire us to treat our enemies? What kind of relationship should we have with those who hate us? Our mindset is to be that of our Savior’s “who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:23). Our goal must not be the ultimate demise of our enemies, but instead, their salvation.
– Cody Westbrook