Helpful Tips On Loving Your Enemies


Approximately 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ said something pretty surprising; "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." - Matthew 5:38-44
 
"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. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you only love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." - Luke 6:27-36
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Jesus told us to love our enemies and to do good to those who do evil to us. He told us to repay evil deeds with acts of kindness, theft with charity, to give without expecting to receive back what you are owed. This contradicts the instinct of every single human being who will ever walk the Earth to repay evil with evil, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". Whenever someone wrongs us, our first thoughts are "How am I going to get back at this person for doing this wretched deed to me". But Jesus told us to resist this instinct (actually, it'd be more appropriate to call it an evil impulse stemming from our sinful nature than an instinct). When one reads these passages in the gospels, one immediately wonders "How exactly do I go about loving my enemy?" How do you avoid despising the people who make you suffer horribly? I'm going to offer 3 tips that I've found very helpful in avoiding hatred towards evil doers.
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1: You Don't Have To Be Fond Of Them, Just Treat Them With Kindness. 

One gigantic misconception in modern society is that love is an emotion. When we hear the word "love" we think of warm fuzzy feelings, right? Well what if I told you (you're imagining that Morpheus meme in your mind's eye right now, aren't you?) that love is not an emotion. Love can certainly trigger certain emotions, those warm fuzzy feelings. But the warm fuzzy feelings are not themselves love, rather they are the effects of love. In The Bible, not one warm fuzzy feeling is mentioned when we're commanded to love. 1 Cortinthians 13 describes love as patience, kindness, humble, not easily angered, not self seeking, and keeps no records of wrong doing. But not a single emotion is listed ("love is giddy"?). Jesus may very well agree with you that it would be unreasonable to command you to have feelings of fondness towards those who treat you horribly. But it's not unreasonable to expect you to treat your enemies with kindness. Even if you're nauseated at the thought of doing good to your offender, you can still do it and it would perhaps count as loving him. You can give your enemy food to eat if he's hungry and something to drink if he's thirsty (Proverbs 15:21) without being happy about it.
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In Jesus' sermon, Jesus describes many actions but not one emotion. Jesus says "When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other one also" He says "When someone sues you and takes your tunic, give him your cloak as well", He says "if someone forces you to go one mile go with him two." All of these are actions that require only the volition to accomplish. You could be disgusted at yourself while you're doing these things, but you can still do them nonetheless. You just have to force yourself too. And here's the thing; the more you do kind acts towards this sinner, the more you'll be able to do them and the more you actually do them, you'll actually start to feel fond of them. I've heard some Christians testify of this happening. They did the acts of kindness out of sheer willpower (with the help of The Holy Spirit) at first and the emotions came later. This is because our choices shape our character. It's like the opposite of someone who does evil with a guilty conscience but the more he does the act, the less guilty he feels. He sheers his conscience. Well, the same is true of good acts. Even if you have a hard time doing them at first, the more you do it the easier it will get. 

2: Try To See Them Not As They Are Now, But How They Could Be 

Another thing you can do to help you love your enemies is to see them not as they are now, but how they could be if God were to redeem them. I'm going to be honest with you, when I read the book of Acts for the first time I wanted to take Saul of Tarsus and give him a good hard punch in the jaw. He was a really unlikable character. But then he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and Jesus changed his life and changed his character (Acts 9:4-7). As I read of Paul's journeys throughout the ancient world, I found myself growing quite fond of him. By the end of Acts, Paul became my favorite character of the New Testament save for Jesus Christ Himself. That made me realize something; what if I only ever saw the other side of Saul; the evil, Christian murdering Saul? I wasn't fond of Saul of Tarsus but I was very fond of The Apostle Paul. With most people, we only see the evil side of people. We don't get to see what kind of person they could potentially become. Instead of looking at them as they are now, try to see them as they could be if God were to regenerate and sanctify them.

When a Saul Of Tarsus comes into your life, try to see the Paul he could become. Try to look at the cruel man in your life as the kind man God could make him. Try to see the greedy man as the charitable fellow God could make him. Try to see the arrogant fellow who belittles you as one who treats you as an equal.

3: Think About What God Did To Save Them

If you have a hard time loving your enemies, try to look at them in this light; Jesus Christ, God in human flesh (Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1-14, John 10:30), became a human being and suffered one the top 5 worst ways to die so that the person you're wishing ill towards could spend eternity in a state of infinite bliss (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). How can you hate someone who God went so far to redeem? That person who wronged you deserves to go to Hell yet God incarnate suffered Hell on his behalf so that he wouldn't have to (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 2:2, Hebrews 9:6). He loves that person so much that He hated the thought of spending eternity with them. As the apostle John put it in his first epistle "....if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?" - 1 John 4:20 


*Several Reasons Why You Should Forgive People
*Did Jesus Command His Followers To Hate Their Family?
*Do Christians Hate Gays?
*The Doctrine Of Hell and Objections To It
*The 7 Deadly Sins