Love Your Enemies

As we end our series on love, God wants us to put that love into action. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35 NLT)  Loving our enemies isn’t easy to do.  God never said it would be easy, but we must be obedient to His command.

Jesus told us how we are to love and showed us by His example. God’s Word tells us how Jesus showed His love to His enemies.  As we look at the events leading up to His crucifixion, we see that Jesus didn’t lash out at them in defense, but took all the abuse quietly without responding to it.  When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus didn’t try to fight against it.   He rebuked Peter for cutting off the soldier’s ear and healed the soldier by putting his ear back. (John 18:10)  When He endured being beaten, scourged, a crown of thorns placed on His head, and nailed on the cross, Jesus asked God, the Father, to forgive them.  (Luke 23:34)  Jesus gave us the ultimate example of how to love our enemies.

Hopefully, most of us will never find ourselves in a position of facing death at the hands of our enemies. But when our enemies devise ways to attack us how do we respond?  Do we fight back?  When they hurl insults at us or spread untruths about us, do we defend ourselves or do we pray for something horrible to happen to them?  It is human nature to want to defend ourselves, it may also be human nature to desire devastation to be brought upon our enemies.  But that isn’t what God wants of us.  We are to love them despite what they may have done or said against us.  Jesus never retaliated and we are to follow His example. 

In Romans 12:17-21, the Apostle Paul talks about how we are to deal with our enemies.  When they speak evil against us, we are not to speak evil against them.  We are to try and live peaceably with them as much as possible, and we are not to take vengeance for what they do to us.  God will take care of our reputation if we continue to live for Him.  There is that within us that wants to give back to them what they dished out, and maybe even double!  But Paul says that when we treat them kindly, not only are we showing the love of God toward them, but our kindness may just bring them to the point of rethinking what they have done.  It just may make them squirm a little, knowing how badly they treated us, and we treated them kindly.  Paul says that when we treat them with love it will, “heap coals of fire upon their heads.” (Romans 12:20 KJV)   They may feel ashamed of themselves, and it just might provide an open door to share Jesus with them.  Now, we shouldn’t have the attitude of, “I’m going to treat them nicely so that they get what’s coming to them.”  No, our attitude should be one of unconditional love toward them.  Pray for them, help them, and love them, even when it is the most difficult thing to do.  As I stated before, it isn’t always easy. 

Bringing it down to specifics, sometimes those in our families can be our worst enemies. When our enemies put us in positions where we need to put some distance between them and us, we should do so in a way that they understand.  We must explain in love and kindness. Sometimes, especially if the person is someone we have daily or regular contact with such as a relative or a coworker, we need to set boundaries and make it abundantly clear to them what are those boundaries. Those relationships may need to be kept at an arm’s length, but at the same time, we need to love them and treat them with civility. 

We are the only Jesus that people see, and we need to reflect His attributes plainly.  His love must shine through us to them.  Love your enemies in such a way that they see Jesus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s