Paul has just said that Christians should show kindness both to other Christians and to strangers (12:13). Now he adds an extraordinary statement. Christians must not only be kind to good and grateful people; they must also be kind even to their enemies. They should desire good things to happen in the lives of those people who deal cruelly with them. Most people would bitterly curse their enemies; Christians should bless them.
By that action, Christians do not of course desire that wicked people will succeed in their evil plans. Instead, they express the desire that God will show mercy (great kindness) to those people. The punishment for that evil behaviour is truly terrible; however, God desires to save people from that punishment (Ezekiel 18:21-23). Therefore, Godís people should also desire that, in his great kindness, God will save even their enemies. That was what had happened in Paulís own life (1 Timothy 1:12-15).
Christ taught that his people should show love even to their enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). That was a hard lesson, even for James and John, who were among his most loyal students (Luke 9:51-56). Even they would have preferred to see Godís judgement against those people who opposed them. However, Christís own attitude was different. Even at his death, he was praying for the people who had dealt so cruelly with him (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34).
Paul reports elsewhere that all the apostles (first Christian leaders) were showing kindness and not hate to their enemies (1 Corinthians 4:12-13). They had already suffered great cruelty from their enemies, but those troubles had not made them bitter and angry (2 Corinthians 6:3-10). Instead, their sincere desire was to know Christ better, and to behave as he did (Philippians 3:8-12).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.