How to Love Your Enemies

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

Jesus summarized the secret to winning over your enemies: just do to them what you would like them to do to you. It sounds simple enough, but doing it is another matter entirely. This is impossible for man to do apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading, and this is the reason the world takes notice when they experience unconditional love from you.

Jesus helps us to understand the practical aspects of living out this principle. There are four actions that believers can initiate with their enemies and four specific responses to their mistreatment of us. The initiated actions pervade our whole being, for it includes our feelings, our behaviors, our words, and our intercession with God on their behalf:

“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)

Loving your enemies encompasses how you feel about them. Do you hope for their redemption or their demise? Love them with sincere desire for their eternal salvation. 

Also, find ways to do good to others who would never do the same for you. By doing so, you will clearly display the nature of God to them, for God’s kindness to sinners is intended to lead to their repentance (Romans 2:4). Similarly, speak words of blessing into their life, and pray for their salvation and eternal well-being.

Our response to their harm and mistreatment of us should never be vindictive. Rather, it should reflect the loving way Jesus’ responded to those who crucified Him.

“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.” (Luke 6:29-30)

We can interpret the command to “turn our cheek” to mean that we should be prepared to endure insult upon insult without resistance and without isolating ourselves.

Also, do not lend to others with the expectation that they’ll be obligated to return the favor to you. This is a common expectation of unredeemed sinners. Instead, lend freely to those who ask no matter who they are.

And do not resist your enemy who would take from you, both what you can spare and that which you can’t. Finally, avoid exercising your rights against anyone who would steal from you.

When we exhibit this kind of unconditional love, our enemies will know we have something they don’t have, and they may want to know why.

By Jim Connell

Jim and his wife, Becky, moved from Indiana to Lexington to establish the Lexington Rescue Mission. They have two married children, Laura and Brian.

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