Love Your Enemies
Sermon on the
: Matt. 5:43-48 Mount Series
We are continuing on in our journey through the Sermon on the Mount, asking the question, “Can anyone live out the requirements Jesus laid out in that sermon in today’s world?” Last week we discussed turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, and what you should do if someone demands or asks something of you. We finished off with a story from Matthew 15 where a gentile woman had the opportunity to be offended and fight back when she requested help from Jesus to heal her daughter. Remember Jesus first ignored her, His disciples asked Him to send her away, He separated himself from her due to her race, and finally He called her a dog. She took all of those insults and pressed on, because if she got mad at Jesus, mumbled something under her breath about how Jesus is all uppity, or how he ain’t all that and a bag of chips, she would have went home and her daughter would still have been demon possessed, and she would have lost all hope. What would she have lost if she did not turn the other cheek? She would have lost everything.
Today we’re going to talk about loving our enemies. We won’t ask what will we lose if we don’t love our enemies, we’ll ask what will we gain if we do.
Matthew 5:43-48 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies[b] and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In the 1950’s there were five men and their families who set out to bring the gospel to a primitive, stone-age Amazon tribe. The five men were Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian. There main problems were that nobody knew where they were and that they were extremely violent. They were a nomadic tribe, which means they roam around depending on their need, in the rainforest of
. They were so violent that nobody wanted anything to do with them. So violent that nobody got close enough to them to know their real name. They were known as the Aucas, but their real name was Waodani. It would be like the boogey man’s real name was Walter but everybody avoided him and didn’t know that. Ecuador
They were so violent that it was unheard of to live long enough to be a grandparent. When scientists eventually were able to study them, they were able to go back five generations in their research and killings and revenge killings were everywhere. Six out of every ten deaths were homicide. That is extremely high, when you realize that they had no hospitals, doctors, or basic medical supplies. A lack of basic healthcare should have resulted in six out of ten people dying. Everyone had a story about how a loved one was killed, and how they got revenge by killing someone else. It was a part of their lives. In fact, they had a motto, “Spear and live, or be speared and die.”
In 1937, the Dutch Shell Oil Company cleared out a landing strip and set up business to drill for oil. A few years later, they abandoned the project because too many people were getting killed by the Waodani. When they left, an opportunity arose for missionaries to use the landing strip as a base for flying in supplies, and missionaries. A plane had crashed and Nate Saint became the new pilot/ mechanic for the base. He talked a few others into joining him, and eventually he had his group that would change the world.
Around this same time, a young Waodani women named Dayumae, escaped from her tribe when she saw a canoe with foreigners in it. She ran to them. They obviously were frightened of the Waodani tribe and raised their gun at her. She still ran to them. She got in their boat and they took her to a missionary base. She learned English, but the missionaries learned the Waodani language.
One day when, Nate was flying Dayumae over the rainforest, she spotted a Waodani village. They marked it on their map and made plans to make contact. They adapted a plan that one of them came up with years earlier. When he was in school, he tied a pencil on the end of a string. He noticed that if he made wide circles, that the pencil also made wide circles. But if he made tight circles, the pencil would barely move. He even said, “Someday, I’m going to use this method to deliver supplies to missionaries.” They flew over the village with a bucket tied to a string, and slowly dropped it as they made tight circles. The Waodani took the gifts from the bucket. After a few weeks, they began to put gifts back into the bucket. After 13 weeks, they decided it was time to make contact. They found a sandbar in a river that they thought they could land on.
They made contact with three Waodanis and set up camp. The initial contact went really well, until the next day when some of the tribe became very angry that one young man was walking alone with a young woman. The young man lied and said they had to be alone because they ran away from the foreigners who were trying to kill them. It wasn’t more than a few hours later that all five of the missionaries were dead.
It seems like such a waste of life. Why would God send five of the brightest missionary minds to a remote part of the rainforest and have them killed within a day of making contact? All of them had wives, a few of them had children.
Elizabeth Elliot, wife of Jim Elliot, was invited by her parents to come back home to the states, and they would help her raise her two children. She said it sounded good at first but she turned them down, because she was a missionary before this tragedy happened and she would be a missionary afterwards. So she went to a missionary medical clinic where Nate Saint’s sister Rachael was working. Around that time two more Waodani women showed up. Elizabeth and Rachael made quick friends with them. Eventually the Waodani women said that they wanted to return to their village and that they wanted Rachael,
, and her family to come and live with them. Elizabeth asked, “Do you think they will spear me like they speared my husband?” The two women laughed and said, “Of course not! You are our friends.” Elizabeth
Dayumae became the preacher and gathered everyone around her on Sundays to hear about God, and all throughout the week, Rachael was teaching Dayumae. In a few short years the village became a Christian village. The homicide rate was reduced by around 90%. One tribe decided to stop killing and revenge killing, and so the other tribe did as well. Revenge killings documented for five generations disappeared completely.
Steve Saint, and Valerie Elliot, two children who lost their fathers, both had a strong connection to the Waodani. Steve said he felt an immediate bond because everyone in the tribe had lost someone close them. And Valerie, when she decided to get baptized, she wanted it to be significant, so she was baptized in the river where her father’s body was dumped, and standing on both sides of her were the men who killed him.
Their entire village was changed by the power of the gospel. What would have happened if the missionaries, who had a gun but refused to shoot at the Waodanis because “They aren’t ready for heaven but we are.”? Could they have made peaceful contact after killing off a few of them? No. What would have happened if the families would have turned their backs on the tribe that killed their loved ones? They would have kept on killing each other and when they were all killed off, they would ultimately spend an eternity in hell, separated from God. But these men and women loved their enemies, they blessed those who cursed them, and did good to those who hurt them.
Who are your enemies? How can we love them? Well, we can pray for them—that they receive Christ and that they might be blessed. Here are three more ways we can love our enemy: 1) Respond to the harm done to us in a non-violent way, just as the missionaries responded to their loved ones being killed, by teaching them how to live according to Christ’s commandments. 2) We must completely and unconditionally forgive them for the wrongs they have committed. This is easy to say from the pulpit, but much harder to do if you were the one who was raped, abandoned, or had your family member murdered. 3) Serve them. Just as Jesus washed Judas’ feet after the last supper, we can serve them by providing for a need. We can give them food, clothing, shelter, money, and help them during a time of distress.
But to be quite honest, loving your enemy is an impossible task if you do not have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. And the only way to have the Holy Spirit alive inside of you is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.