First of all, Jesus taught us to LOVE ALL MEN. When asked by the scribes of His day what the most important commandment was, He said, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-30…NKJV). So, whether one is “righteous” or “wicked” we are to love them. One may respond to this by saying, “But this passage doesn’t speak of an ‘enemy’ but our ‘neighbor’.” I believe “all men are our neighbors” and not just the person living next door to you. This is made clear in the parable of the “Good Samaritan” (please read Luke 10:25-37). Jesus had told an inquiring young man to “love the LORD your God” and “your neighbor as yourself” (see verse 25-27). The man then asked, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus then told the well-known story of a Jewish man who had been robbed and beaten as he travelled to Jericho and a certain Samaritan met him on the road and being moved with compassion, he treated his wounds and then took him to an inn and paid the innkeeper to take care of him” (verse 30-35). In this lovely story we learn that “all men are our neighbors” and we are to “love them.” The Jews hated the Samaritans (see John 4:7-9) and yet this Samaritan showed love to “his Jewish neighbor.”   

Now let’s read Matthew 5:43-48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ But I say to you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as you Father in heaven is perfect.” Here too the Lord Jesus refers to the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself” and He goes on to apply this to one’s “enemies.” This would have been foreign to a Jew for they were taught by their religious leaders that your “neighbor” was a fellow-Jew and that God’s commandment didn’t apply to one’s enemies; in fact, they went on to teach that it was quite proper to “hate your enemy.” But Jesus, who had come into this world to show all men the love and grace of God, teaches us to “love your enemy.” If we do love our enemies, we will be imitating our heavenly Father who shows no partiality in displaying His love to those who are evil and unjust.

You ask, “How can we love our enemies without showing partiality?” We just saw the example of our Father who blesses ALL MEN with sunshine and rain. This act of love shows no favoritism and we too can show acts of love equally to all men. Jesus said to “BLESS those who curse you, DO GOOD to those who hate you, and PRAY for those who spitefully use you and persecute.” We have no problem doing these three things (blessing, doing good and praying) to those that we love, but here we are told to do them to those that hate us. I remember reading the story of a famous “boxer” who became a believer in Christ and gave up boxing and drinking. His former friends would tease him for forsaking his former vices and one day they picked a fight with him. He literally “turned the other cheek” (see Matthew 5:38-39) and then he went home and had his wife make a cake for the man who hit him. He visited his persecutor later that day and as he handed him the cake he said, “I just want you to know that I love you and that God loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you.” His act of love resulted in this man repenting of his sins and trusting in Christ as his Savior. So, we can indeed show the same kind of love that we have for our loved ones to one who hates us, and this may be used of God to soften their hard hearts which in turn may lead them to trust in the “Savior of sinners.”

I want to close by reading the third verse you cited. “It is not good to show partiality to the wicked, or to overthrow the righteous in judgment” (Proverbs 18:5). We have seen that we can indeed show love to the wicked without showing partiality to them, but this verse teaches us that we may indeed show partiality to them at times. The context here speaks of “making wrong judgments.” Instead of CONDEMNING a wicked person for an act of wickedness, we can be guilty of CONDONING their wickedness. This would be a “perversion of justice” and it would NOT be showing love to them, nor would it be showing God’s hatred of their sin. We must always remember that “God LOVES the sinner but He HATES their sin.” We can show love to the sinner without condoning their sin and that’s what we saw in Matthew 5:43-48.  (DO)  (493.1)