Love Our Enemies?

I was reading my Bible, and as I read these verses below, I thought about some difficult circumstances that have happened recently. Circumstances that have caused me to have some bad feelings, feelings that I don’t like to feel. As I read, Matthew 5:38-42, it says “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” I remember the verse to love your enemies. You know the verse.

Of all the teachings of Jesus, it may be, that there is none more difficult than this one: “Love you enemies.” We all know some people are easier to show love to than others.  For me, I pray that I handle all things in a Christian manner, but I have struggled and do struggle. It’s hard to overlook the hurtful actions of people. Do you have difficult people in your life? Our enemy can be a family member, neighbor, co-worker, someone we just met, in other words, just about anyone who does not like us. So let’s take a closer look at who our enemies are. In Matthew 5:44 it says, “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.”

Based on these words the definition of an enemy is anyone who curses you or speaks ill about you or to you. An enemy is anyone who hates you or despised you. An enemy is anyone who spitefully uses you, who abuse you, treat you despitefully or falsely accuse you. An enemy is anyone who persecutes you. What a broad definition. Which side have you been on? Have you been on both sides of the coin? Meaning, does someone think of you as an enemy or the other way around? Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to follow this command.

It is easy to love those who love us. It is harder to love those who intend to do us harm. The inclination of most, even those professing Christianity, is to retaliate for evil that is done to us, or to those whom we love. As Jesus correctly notes, God gives certain good gifts to both the good and the evil. Our goal is to shine as lights in a world of darkness. God expects us to treat even difficult people with the love of God…but how can we do that?

We do that by blessing, doing good, and praying for our enemies. By turning the other cheek and going the extra mile and by not taking vengeance upon them, overcoming evil with good. Romans 12:19 reminds us that, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord. He is saying He will take care of it. I have a very hard time being around people who are mean. It causes me to have anger in my heart. I need to learn our job is to to pray and forgive.

Loving our enemies is a constant effort on our part to make them, not only our friends, but our brethren, by teaching them about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if you need to grow in Christian love toward your enemies, please give it much thought and practice. The next time someone does something evil to you, do something good for him or her. Let them know that you forgive them, and that you stand ready to serve them should they desire to draw closer to God.

I am a work in progress everyday. I am flawed and I pray for strength and guidance. I know what being a Christian is about, but like I said, I am a work in progress. To be a Christian means to be like Christ, and Christ stood ready to forgive His enemies. Evil is not overcome with more evil, but with good. With that, I say to you, “Love your enemies!” Each soul is worth loving. God certainly thinks so.

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