How do I love my enemies?

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1Jesus once told his friends: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your [friend] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who [hate] you” (Matthew chapter 5, verses 43 to 44). But what did Jesus mean by telling us to love our enemies? How do we do that? And why would we want to?

When terrorists kill innocent children or enemy soldiers shoot our mates on the battlefield, we feel angry. We want to get even. We want them to feel more pain than they made us feel. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he isn’t saying that we’re to let them off the hook if they do terrible things. As soldiers, we’re still to fight the threats to our country, homes, family, friends and regiments.

Jesus says the way we can love our enemies is to pray for them. God created everyone in the world, even people who decide to become terrorists, extremists or mercenaries. And Jesus came to die for everyone he made, including them, so that absolutely anyone can have a new life in God’s family if they choose to. When we pray for our enemies, we’re praying they would meet God and trust Jesus for themselves. We’re praying they would leave their violent, hateful ways of life behind and become God’s children instead. Wanting someone to know Jesus for themselves is the best example of love we can show them. And if our enemies do meet Jesus, they will leave their life of violence behind and, in turn, stop being our enemies.

But loving our enemies through prayer isn’t just for them. It’s for us too. We might not like the idea of a terrorist trusting Jesus and being forgiven of their crimes. Yet, when we pray this for them, God will help us change our views on them. They’ll stop being monsters who deserve our anger, and will become real people who are in very real danger of facing God’s terrible judgement and need a rescue.

Loving our enemies is also good for us because it’s not something we can do on our own. We naturally want to hurt the people who hurt us. If we’re going to love them and pray for them, we’re going to need God’s help. He loves them, so he can help us love them too. Loving our enemies forces us to rely on God even more and get to know him much better for ourselves.

— Chris, an Our Daily Bread reader

 1 person has responded to this question.
If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, please contact us.
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