Loving Enemies

What does it mean to love an enemy?

It means that one is to refrain from hating someone even when the person does you wrong.

What does the Bibel say about loving enemies?

Luke 6:27-36 reads, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Here Jesus tells his hearers to do good to those who hate you, and to pray for those who abuse you. He goes on to suggest that when someone persecutes you that you are to go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, and give the tunic. These are forms of non-violent resistance that would cause the person treating you badly to realize they are in the wrong. It gives them an opportunity to apologize and change their behavior, though it is not a guarantee.

Jesus reminds his hearers that everyone treats their friends well, but treating enemies well is something that sets Christians apart from other faith traditions.

In Romans 12:19-21 Paul writes, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Paul is in full agreement with the statements Jesus made in Luke. Paul does not believe that Christians should take vengeance on their enemies. Paul then gives his readers similar advice. He says to feed your enemy if he is hungry or give him drink if he is thirsty.  Paul says to overcome evil with good.

The idea again is that by showing love to your enemies, you will bring them under conviction. They will see a difference in you not found in others…namely love. And through this love, they will hopefully come to repentance, change their ways, become a friend and even a brother or sister in Christ.

Application:

Christians today should love their enemies as Christ commands. This means that when people do things contrary to the beliefs and practices of the Christian faith, instead of throwing stones, they should pray for those people. They should do good for them and help them as they can. Christians can express their opinions and can tell non-Christians when they disagree with their actions, but they should always do so in love. Christians must be kind when dealing with those who have different standards and values.

If you have been wronged by someone, work on forgiving him or her. Do not wrong that person in an attempt to “get them back” or “get even.”

If someone you know has been wronged, help them learn to forgive.

We have all been victims at some point. Many victimizers are themselves victims of past abuses.

Sometimes relationships cannot be mended and sometimes boundaries must be formed for emotional and physical protection. There is nothing wrong with forming boundaries, but we must remember to build them in love. We should not ever be hateful or mean towards others even when putting up a fence.

In the Christian Bible we are told to treat all people as our neighbors; we are told to love our enemies; we are told to wish harm upon no one.  It can be pretty difficult to do these things, but when we learn to love others and treat them with kindness (even when we have disagreements with them), then we will be much happier individuals on the whole. 

I want to encourage you to put yourself in the shoes of everyone you meet, try to see things from their perspectives.  Before you lose your temper with someone, try to understand why they are doing or saying whatever is upsetting you.  Be slow to judge others, but quick to listen and offer a helping hand or a gentle hug.  Make it a point not to Gossip about others.  And more than anything, try to be patient with everyone, especially people you don’t get along with.

Through these kinds of actions, Christ’s love becomes real to the world around us.

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