How Can We Love Our Enemies?

by Richard Mansel, managing editor
loveenemies3.jpg“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, NKJV).
It is difficult to find a more daunting task than loving our enemies. It reminds us afresh that everything God has asked of his children requires conscious effort. We cannot ever hope to live in holiness on automatic pilot. Doing what comes natural to the flesh will always find us opposed to the way God desires for us to live.
One of the most difficult of these dichotomies is to love our enemies.
First, we must realize what it does not mean. Loving them does not constitute endorsement of their behavior. Further, it does not mean that we have to like their lifestyle. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is describing a life of holiness, contrasting it with the carnal life.
The Beatitudes are stunning in calling us to rise above the sins of humanity and strive to grow (Matthew 5:3-11). We must never settle for the foibles of men (Ephesians 4:17-19). Paul wrote that we are to be “transformed” from a weak fleshly person to a strong godly individual (Romans 12:1-2).
After the transformation, we begin to see the world through spiritual eyes. We see everything differently, including individuals. We understand that we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and that we all have a soul that will enter eternity (1 Peter 2:11).
This new vision is the reason we are able to love our enemies. When the fleshly person looks at an individual, they see the fleshly things. They begin to build walls against them or decide to accept them. Accordingly, the sinful barriers of racism, prejudice, bigotry, hatred, etc. rise like Cobras in the fleshly mind, when we encounter other people.
A spiritual person sees another individual as someone with a soul and heart. We are able to see what is truly important in them. Therefore, we are able to separate them from their shortcomings. We give them a chance to allow whom they really are to rise to the surface.
This is how we separate the sin from the sinner in our minds. It requires spiritual and emotional maturity on our parts.
We are able to compartmentalize in our minds. We realize the destructive nature of sin (Romans 3:10-23). Accordingly, we are able to grasp the influence of weakness in people’s lives and not take things so personally. For example, when someone persecutes us, we realize that Satan is acting, and we turn our anger toward the real culprit (2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 5:8).
In the case of our enemies, we can see past their bluster into the stain on their souls. They have surrendered to Satan, are unwittingly doing his bidding and showing his face to the world. We can hate their actions, feel sad for them and pray that they would allow Christ to heal them.
This mindset allows us less stress and turmoil in this life and we can rise above much of the pain of this world, through Christ. In other words, it does what no human doctor can ever hope to accomplish, provide inner peace (Philippians 4:6-7; Isaiah 40:31).

2 thoughts on “How Can We Love Our Enemies?

  1. Hi Richard,
    And EXCELLENT article on a sometimes sensitive subject. Praying for you.
    Don & Family in India

  2. Excellent article. Loving our enemies brings glory to God and the example may very well lead our enemies to Christ.

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