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Loving Your Enemies

Joke: Q: Which area of Palestine was especially wealthy?A: The area around Jordan, because the banks were always overflowing

Jesus brought up the issue of mercy repeatedly. Everyone wants mercy. The Bible tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. Of course, we want it. Giving mercy requires us to give up revenge and hand the judgment part to God. Loving our enemies doesn’t mean allowing them to continue to hurt us. That would be a failure of loving ourselves as God loves us. We can do what is in our control to protect ourselves while trusting God to step in.

We can always pray for our enemies. Praying is an act of mercy. Praying is loving like our Heavenly Father. Praying changes our hearts.

God commands us to love everyone—including our enemies.

Here are some key Scriptures (Bible verses) on loving your enemies:

  • A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)
  • But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)
  • We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it. (1 Corinthians 4:12)
  • Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)
  • Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
  • Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. (1 John 2:9-10)

Our highest calling is to spread the Gospel and help others grow in Christ.

We should be passionately concerned about introducing people to Jesus. Along the same lines, we should be passionately concerned about other believers’ spiritual welfare.

Study “dissensions” in Galatians 5:19-21 and Romans 13:13.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)

Discussion

  • What is notable about these dissensions?
  • How does Paul advocate that we deal with these disagreements

Jesus loved his enemies. Make him your example.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

Realize that you may be right: The other person may be your enemy.

However, if someone insults you or dislikes you, respond in a Christ-like manner. Don’t take things personally or give in to hurt feelings and let your emotions control you. Instead, see the other person as someone with a problem who needs God’s help and your prayers.

Determine what part you played in the problem.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5)

See problems as opportunities to grow in Christ.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. (James 1:2)

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Love and forgive…even if your enemy does not apologize.

Follow Jesus’ example

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)

Follow Stephen’s example

Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)

Evaluate your love for your enemies

How well do you practice the following verses?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

In groups score yourself from 0-10 on each of the following.

“0” means “I need a lot of improvement.”
“10” means “I’m great at this.”
___ I am patient.
___ I am kind.
___ I do not envy.
___ I do not boast.
___ I am not proud.
___ I am not rude.
___ I am not self-seeking.
___ I am not easily angered.
___ I keep no record of wrongs.
___ I do not delight in evil.
___ I rejoice with the truth.
___ I always protect.
___ I always trust.
___ I always hope.
___ I always persevere.
___ My love never fails.

Conclusion

But loving our enemies?  That goes against our human nature.  Sometimes our human nature wants to hold a grudge or get revenge.  But the Bible makes it clear: “Dear friends, never take revenge.  Leave that to the righteous anger of God.” Romans 12:19 (NLT).

To take revenge is to repay evil with evil.  It’s easy to strike back or to strike out at our enemies. And when we feel attacked or hurt, it’s hard to love.  But God says to let Him deal with our enemies. Only He can judge, and he doesn’t need our input on how it should look.  We are to leave our enemy in his hands.

“Don’t repay evil for evil.  Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you.  Instead, pay them back with a blessing.  That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.”  1 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

As Christians, we have a new purpose and a new way of life. Instead of “getting even” as our old self wants, we respond with a blessing, a prayer, or a positive response.

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