Love your Enemy!
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).
If you are looking for a nice, relaxing and sweet little religion that doesn’t call for any demands on you, makes you feel better when you’re down, and will reserve a ten bedroom mansion for you in heaven when you die, then you probably shouldn’t try to be one of Jesus’ disciples.
Jesus is very demanding.
He has the crazy notion that his followers should serve others rather than themselves. He expects them to show integrity when no one is looking. And he expects them to love. Not just people who only occasionally have a bad day. But also enemies.
Loving your wife or kids or friends is a no-brainer unless you’re self-destructive. Loving your friends and your spouse is just in your self-interest.
But Jesus expects you to love your enemies. Now he goes a step further. We are to love our persecutors.
Let’s pause for a moment. Who are your enemies? Are they a spouse? Your Father? A co-worker? An acquaintance that always makes problems? How do I love my enemy?
Realize that you may have misinterpreted the other person’s words.
- He or she may be distracted.
- He or she may be busy.
- He or she may be going through a personal crisis.
- He or she may be sick or exhausted.
If we start with actions of love, the emotions may follow later. We start doing what Jesus taught right here:
- Do good and forgive them, even if they DO NOT apologize. When you find a way you can do something good for one of your worst enemies, do it. Not to shame him, but because you are trying to find it in your own evil heart to love him for Jesus’ sake.
Follow Stephen’s example: Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:60).
Follow Jesus’ example: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”.
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without
expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you
will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
Luke 6:35 New International Version
When you think of the person who is slandering you, and saying untrue and nasty things about you, find ways to work blessing into your thoughts. Speak a blessing out loud. When you are with friends, instead of complaining about your unjust treatment, go out of your way (actively) to speak well of your enemies. Why? To shame them? No — though it will. But to find it in your own heart to love them.
- Pray. Intercede. When you’re praying, you probably pray for your family and your pastor, and your friends and family. Why don’t you begin to pray and intercede for your enemies. Actively. Start to ask God to help them. Ask God to heal the hurts in their lives that are some of the motivators of their evil actions. Ask God to bless them and show mercy to them. Why? To shame them? No, in order to find it in your heart to love them.
And if you’ll do these things to your enemies, and bless them when you think of them, and pray and intercede earnestly before the Lord for them, you’ll find that God will begin to put love in your heart toward your enemies. Actual love. Sometimes loving emotions, too.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.“
1 Corinthians 13:13 New International Version
If someone insults you or dislikes you, respond in a Christ-like manner. Try and see the other person as someone with a problem who needs God’s help and your prayers.
How well do you practice the following verses?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble (1 John 2:9-10).
When we give in to anger, we often focus on our own welfare, comfort or happiness. Instead, as Christian’s, we should be primarily concerned about other people’s welfare and being a good witness for God.