From everything that Jesus Christ said while on earth, one of the most shocking and remembered statements from him was: “Love you enemies.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Some might say that he was meant love them in your heart but do what you must do to defend yourself. But Jesus made it clear that it was more than just loving them in our hearts.
“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 are abusive to you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.
The words of Jesus are very clear, we need to love them in our hearts and with our actions. And the importance of this is huge, see what he says:
“…that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”
So this is extremely important for us to do as followers of Christ. But it is hard. Where do we start?
If you have an enemy that has hurt you, you probably think about them often. Imagine someone who said something offensive to you. Over the next few days you probably thought of them numerous times throughout the day and every time you thought of them you felt angry towards them. You may have kept in all inside your head so that you were not slandering the person to others, but you were thinking negative thoughts about them in anger. Honestly, this is pretty close to cursing them if not actually cursing them. This is clearly a sin, and the devil loves it when we do this. So what should you do?
- Recognize when you have a thought of someone who has hurt you in any way. (this in reality is your enemy)
- Stop yourself and realize that thinking of them in a negative way will only make you feel bad and could lead you into sin.
- Speak a word of blessing over them.
This will not be easy, but it is extremely effective. Your sinful flesh doesn’t want to bless your enemy. You will have to put the desires of your flesh to death. Satan doesn’t want you to bless your enemy. You will have to shut out the temptations of Satan.
In time, your flesh and Satan will stop bringing them to your mind. Why? Because they don’t want you to keep blessing them. At the same time, as you keep blessing your enemy your heart will be made right and when you see them you will speak and act out of the love that is in your heart.
Note: All of this should be done while seeking God in prayer. We need his help to overcome sin and change our hearts. He is love, and we must go to him to get that love to give to our enemy.