Loving your enemy
Love is an emotion, but it is also an action of the will. It is not natural to love someone we hate, or someone who hates us. Nor is it natural to do good to someone who has harmed us. Yet, that is what God requires. Loving your enemy is possible and it is do-able.
I know this, not because it is merely an idea, but because it works. Actions of our will bring about the results God desires in us. This I know is true because I have experienced it myself.
It seems that under Old Testament law, it was assumed to be okay to hate one’s enemy. Yet, Exodus gives an example of what one should do concerning an enemy. Jesus gave us a pattern for loving our enemies. When we follow this pattern, we can succeed in loving our enemies.
Who is my enemy?
An enemy is a person – or a nation – that is actively opposed to someone or something. An enemy is one who harms or weakens another. There are subtle enemies and there are blatant enemies. Their intent is to take us down – whether it’s by lack of support, by thwarting, lying, or espionage.
Someone who is against you or does not want you to succeed is not a friend; he is an enemy. Learn to recognize your enemies so you can practice doing what Jesus said you should do.
Three things to do so you can love your enemy
Jesus gave specific instructions to His disciples on how to respond to an enemy. Leviticus also gives instructions for those who want to live right. These things are not easy, but they are necessary if you want to follow HIs command to love your enemies..
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus addressed the enemy problem. He gave three things we must do for our enemies. They are not an option. Doing these things will give you a desire to care about your enemy.
- Love your enemies. This is an action of your will and follows with emotion.
- Do good to your enemies. Leviticus gives us an example: “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. ” In writing to the Romans, Paul gave examples of how to treat someone who is our enemy: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” This is the opposite of what comes naturally to us. Of course it is opposite, because we live in an upside-down kingdom!
- Pray for your enemies. When we sincerely pray for our enemies, we no longer view them as an enemy, but as someone in need. This is what happens to me when I pray for Putin. I see him as the lost soul that he is.
What not to do
- Do not carry a grudge or try to retaliate. These are specific instructions for the follower of Jesus.
- Do not ignore the person even though it would be easier.
- Do not share your frustrations with other people.
Nixing these ideas or opportunities helps keep your mind clear of wanting to return evil for evil. Loving your enemy involves doing something for the person. It also involves refusing to do evil in response.
The end result
When we follow these principles, we experience freedom, relief, forgiveness, and blessing. Getting there is not easy; sometimes we take three steps forward and two steps back. Yet, it is the worth the struggle and the strain for the triumph.
How have you learned to love your enemy? I’d love to hear from you.