“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;”
Jesus says in verse 48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” The word “perfect” means to be mature. In other words, God is commanding the believer to be as mature as God the Father. This command is truly a hard command to obey.
However, how can the believer be as mature as the Father? The verse above gives the test of the believer’s maturity test when they are commanded to “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;” Whether you pass the maturity test is determined by the treatment of your enemies. It is easy to treat friends right, but a mature believer treats their enemies like they do their friends.
How do we determine who our enemy is? The word “enemy” means someone who has been hateful or hostile towards you, or someone who is simply your opponent. How you treat those who are hateful towards you is the true determination of your Christian maturity. Four actions towards your enemy determine your spiritual maturity.
First, what your heart feels about your enemy determines your spiritual maturity. The verse above says, “Love your enemies…” The greatest way to determine whether you love someone is how you treat them at their worst. Loving those who are lovable is easy, but loving people who are hateful takes spiritual maturity. God often allows people to be hateful towards you to show you your lack of spiritual maturity through your lack of love towards them. The mature believer will love those who are hateful towards them.
Second, what you say about your enemy determines your spiritual maturity. The verse above continues by saying, “…bless them that curse you…” How do you talk about those who have hurt you? The immature believer talks negatively about their enemy. The greatest test you can give yourself is simply asking yourself this question; is your conversation about those who have hurt you positive or negative? God didn’t say bless them sometimes, but He said to “bless them,” which infers you talk positively about them all the time. How you talk about those who have hurt you truly reveals your spiritual maturity.
Third, what you do for your enemy determines your spiritual maturity. When is the last time you helped the one who has hurt you? The verse above says, “…do good to them that hate you…” When you hear your enemy has a need, you should be the first one to try to help them; not to heap coals of fire on them, but out of the goodness of your heart to help them as a fellow believer and human being. Spiritual maturity doesn’t do good for your enemy to make them feel guilty, but it does good to them just to be a help to them.
Fourth, how much you pray for your enemy determines your spiritual maturity. The verse above says, “…pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” How much have you prayed for God to help those who have hurt you? Better yet, how do you pray for them? You will never be a mature believer until you start praying for God to help those who have hurt you.