Jesus said “love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44). Upon hearing these words three questions are raised. Who? How? and Why?
- Who are my enemies? Those who dislike us, who curse us, who speak behind our backs and gossip, who try to harm us etc. We may have nothing against these people but for one reason or another they have something against us.
- How can I love my enemy? How can I love someone I don’t even like? We can love our enemies by focusing on the positive, by affirming them, and by wishing them well. We love our enemies by also forgiving them. We have to forgive, this is not optional. Forgiveness is a decision and not a feeling. When Jesus was upon the cross at Calvary He was mocked and taunted and He said “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). I also love my enemy by praying for them. Do we pray for our enemies? That the Lord would bless them and enter into their lives?
- Why do I need to Love my enemies? Why is it so important to forgive them? It is more than simply imitating Jesus or doing a nice thing. We forgive and love our enemies because it hurts us if we don’t. God wants to bless us and everyone else. When we have unforgiveness and a lack of love it acts as a barrier preventing God’s blessing from reaching us. That is why Jesus urges us so frequently to love and forgive.
This is not an easy call, but it’s the Lord’s call to us, and we need to remember that it is not our strength but His working and moving through us. The Lord’s way works, and we need to follow it.