The biblical command to love your enemies is likely one of the most difficult commands to follow in the Bible.
Personally, I am tempted to just ignore my enemies. Whether it be someone I disagree with, who has wronged me, who has threatened me, or something else, I am really good at ignoring that person. I just pretend like that person doesn’t exist.
If you don’t ignore your enemies, maybe you struggle with the tendency to want to hurt your enemy in return. Maybe you gossip about them. Or maybe you go out of your way to make their life miserable. Perhaps you make sure they do not get that job by digging up dirt about them.
Whether you struggle with ignoring your enemies or are out to get them, we are disobeying Christ. Of course, Jesus knows that it is “normal” to hate an enemy. He says:
You have heard the law that says, “Love your neighbor” and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. (Matthew 5:43-45)
Somehow we read this text and think, “I shouldn’t hate my enemy.” Then we try and make sure we aren’t mean to them. Human beings are great at taking clear teachings and making them unclear in the application. But the pattern in Scripture is put off and put on; Biblical commands don’t end with “stop.” When we only “put off” in this way, we miss the true heart of the text.
It’s not only to stop hating your enemy or to just be nice to them, but we are to start loving them.
Romans 5:10 tells us that while we were God’s enemies, He reconciled us to Himself through His Son. Christ died for your sins while you were God’s enemy. What a beautiful example of sacrificial love!
When I struggle (and I really do) with loving my enemies, I meditate on the beauties of the cross of Christ. I was an enemy of God, under His wrath, and completely against Him (Romans 5:9). But thanks be to Him, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Let us follow His example, as His dearly beloved children.
Husbands, are you showing your wife and kids that we are to love our enemies? Do your words and actions demonstrate that you honor this command from Jesus?
Wives, do your kids see you extending love and kindness to those who speak against you? Does your family see you putting this command to love your enemies into practice?
Are you showing others the same love that Christ showed you?