Our imitation of God’s love to our neighbours in itself can be a difficult thing, but “Love your enemies” that’s one of the greatest challenges in life. Even though, God may define some people as enemies, He says that we are to treat them as friends. But how can we even begin this impossible process? It helps when we realize that we were Christ’s enemies, then we have no choice but to treat enemies the way God has treated us.
The Bible speaks time and time again on how we should treat our enemies. Here are some of the key verses:
- 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).
John Piper asks the question: ‘Can we pray for justice, and yet love our enemy at the same time? The answer is yes…We will magnify the mercy of God by praying for our enemies to be saved and reconciled to God. At the personal level we will be willing to suffer for their everlasting good, and we will give them food and drink. We will put away malicious hatred and private vengeance. But at the public level we will also magnify the justice of God by praying and working for justice to be done on earth, if necessary through wise and measured force from God-ordained authority.’
When it comes to God’s love, our biggest motivation as mentioned above, must be, that God’s love embraces the entire world (John 3:16), and He loved each of us even while we were still sinners and His enemies (Rom. 5:8-10). Those who refuse to trust in God are His enemies; be He is not theirs. In the same way, we are not to be enemies of those who may be enemies to us.
Loving our enemies doesn’t simply mean sitting back and accepting their way of life, R.C. Sproul Jr. writes: ‘[Jesus Christ’s victory), means that we are to love them. Our love for them must be strong enough, however, to tell them with both passion and compassion, that their hopes are in vain, that their gods are mute and dumb, and that there is only one name under heaven by which a man must be saved. Our love for them does not present the Christian Gospel as an option. It does not lead us to argue that it’s a good option that has worked well for us. Our love instead commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel, lest they perish.
Just remember, we love, because He first loved us, even while we were enemies to him. The more we love our enemies, the more we have the joy of becoming more like Jesus.