How To Love Your Enemies
by Curt Klingeman
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Matthew 5:43-44 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (KJV).
Perhaps, while reading this passage of Scripture you have asked, “Just how am I supposed to love my enemy? Come on Jesus get real!” This concept is so counterintuitive to what most people learned while in the world, that it seems ridiculous. God never asks us to do something that He Himself does not do or has not already done. It is easy to forget as believers that there was a time that we were God’s enemies, yet He still reached to us -even when we may have cursed Him, or used His Name while cursing. Romans 5:10 puts it this way, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (KJV). Not only did God reach out to us in spite of ourselves, He sent Jesus to die in our stead, so that we could spend eternity with Him. How many would love to hang out with your enemies for all eternity? Getting back to our opening passage, Jesus qualified what it meant to be children of God: “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45, KJV). That’s correct, if we are children of the Most High, we will love our enemies.
If you find yourself asking, how do I love my enemies, especially those who desire to do me harm, perhaps you are looking at it from the wrong perspective. If we continue trying to balance the scales of justice through natural thinking, we will never grasp God’s concept of love and mercy. Do keep in mind that while God is Love, He is also the Judge, and people will receive their due at the proper time. Nevertheless, His perfect will is that everyone comes to repentance, and no one perishes (see 2Peter 3:9). If we continue to walk according to the spirit of the world, we will desire vengeance and take glee in our enemies hurt or downfall. Luke 9:51-56 talks of incident in which Jesus and His disciples were passing through a village in Samaria, on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus had sent messengers ahead to prepare a place for Him; however, the people did not receive Him because He was going to Jerusalem. At that point, James and John asked Jesus, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did” (Luke 9:54, KJV)? Their reaction revealed their carnal nature, since they viewed the Samaritans in the wrong light. What was Jesus’ response? “But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village” (Luke 9:55-56,KJV). The truth is our warfare is spiritual in nature; not carnal.
In relation to loving our enemies, Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, KJV). How does that sound for impossible? In truth, in of ourselves, we do not have the capacity to love our enemies as we should. This is where the Holy Spirit comes into the picture. To begin with, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature . . .” (2 Peter 1:3-4, KJV). Basically, God gave us what we lacked in order to accomplish what He asks of us. He gave us the Holy Spirit, and by submitting to Him, we are able to love our enemies. Galatians 5:22 tells us that part of the Fruit of the Spirit is love, which means through the Spirit we are able to love as we should. Furthermore, Galatians 5:16 tells us, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (KJV). Through the Holy Spirit, we can let go of the old nature, which desires to hate and despise others. If we walk in love, our enemies may become our brothers and sisters in due time. Ask the Lord to let you see your enemies the way He sees them, and allow His love to work through you by His Spirit.
Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (KJV). This is what loving our enemies looks like in action; however, the best picture of loving our enemies is Jesus on the Cross.
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