Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Good News for Enemies of God

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from a sermon Wang Yi, pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, preached on Matthew 5:38-48 before he was imprisoned in 2018. Wang Yi argues in this excerpt that, because all people have been wronged, everyone longs for justice and even vengeance. He then explains that we ourselves cannot determine what vengeance is. Instead, we need someone else to decide on that. The bad news is that often justice is not served in our lives. The good news is that God will handle this — one day. In the meantime, because we trust that vengeance is in God’s hands, Christians are commanded to not only forgive those who harm us, but to take it a step further and love our enemies.

This is the fifth and final installment in this series.  (Parts one, twothree and four are linked here.)


38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Mt. 5:38-48

Unable to Love

Jesus tells us to love our enemies. He does this to show us our definition of love is wrong. You must acknowledge: you are unable to love your enemies. Jesus wants us to realize that, because we have hatred within, we are God’s enemies.

But the problem is not just that we cannot love our enemies. We cannot even love our brothers and sisters. If you only love those who love you, that is not love.

Do you love your husband? Your wife? Of course, your husband scolds, and your wife has many problems – but are they enemies?

The problem is not just that we cannot love our enemies. We cannot even love our brothers and sisters.

Jesus is telling us that we are enemies to him. The law requires us to love our enemies. I’ll give an example: “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.” If you saw your enemy’s car break down on the road, would you stop and help them fix it, arriving late to the meeting? Jesus wants us to bear our enemies’ burdens. This is the law’s requirement.

But we cannot love our enemies, because we are enemies of God. We don’t understand the way God treats his enemies.


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Good News for People Who Need It

Finally, my conclusion: the gospel is God’s good news to his enemies. Although loving your enemies is an impossible task, your heart acknowledges that it is a good thing. Each of us has discovered that we are unable to treat others like this – but still, each of us hopes and dreams that someone else will treat us this way.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus summaries the law and the prophets: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.

We are willing to let others love us, even if we are their enemy. Does a person who can do this exist? If so, that person has the right to command us. That person can tell us to love our enemies.

Sometimes we are able to forgive our enemies, because we have no relationship with them. But…the closer the relationship, the more I struggle to love or to want to love.

The saddest thing in life is that we are unable to treat others like this – even those who are not enemies, but with whom we are in very close relationships. Last week, a co-worker in the church shared with me that, because of his close relationship with his wife, he couldn’t forgive her. Have you experienced this?

Sometimes we are able to forgive our enemies, because we have no relationship with them. But a brother in the church, someone who is like family – I cannot forgive him. The closer the relationship, the more I struggle to love or to want to love. This is a sad reality. But forgiving those close to us is the most important thing in our lives.

Who is unable to love their enemies? Me! And who does love his enemies? Jesus!

Loving the Enemies of Love

One day, a brother shared a thought that profoundly impacted me: at a wedding, the bridge and groom say, “Until death do us part.” Of course, when we love someone, we hope to be together forever. But this brother said, “My biggest problem is not that I am afraid my wife won’t be with me forever – it’s that I don’t want to be with myself forever.”

Are you like this? When I look in the mirror and know what kind of person I am, when I fear I won’t change and will always be like this, I’m unwilling to be with myself forever! Are you also unwilling to remain with your own self for all eternity? There is One who is willing to be with you. On the cross, he shed his blood and said, “I want to be with you forever.”

Who can love you with this kind of love? In this world, who has loved his enemies? The One who is holy, righteous, and good. The One who commands us to love those who hate us.

Break down your self-justification. Admit that you are an enemy of love. You cannot love your enemies. You cannot even love your own family!

Who can love you with this kind of love? In this world, who has loved his enemies? The One who is holy, righteous, and good, who commands us to love those who hate us. With his words, he accuses and commands us.

Loving our enemies is the purpose of Jesus’s incarnation. When he uttered the words in this passage, he had already decided to go to the cross for you. Amen!

Lord,

Only you can ask us to give up our desire for revenge, to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute and curse us. Your demands are not legalistic, but are filled with the power of your blood. Love is powerful and victorious. Not only does it love the unlovable, but it also has the power to fill the unlovable with love.

In the precious name of Jesus Christ,

Amen!


Wang Yi is a Chengdu pastor who was arrested on December 9, 2018, as part of a crackdown focused on his church, Early Rain. He was sentenced to nine years in December of 2019, and is currently in prison.  

Pray for Chinese Christians to rest in God’s love for them. As they realize how God loves them, even while they were his enemies, may they have strength to love those who hate them.

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Further Reading

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Moses in the Wilderness: On the Run
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Chengdu: Relaxed, Comfortable, Leisurely
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Good News for Enemies of God
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

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Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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