One of the best known teachings of Christianity is when Jesus said, ”But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45a). To love your enemies is one of the defining teachings of Christianity. It is also probably one of the most uncomfortable to hear and obey.
Spiritual Power to Love Those Who Hate You
Like we’ve seen with other commands, if we try to do what Jesus said in our own strength and effort, using our natural abilities, we will fail miserably. It is only by God’s spiritual power that a person can be changed from within, by Christ within (Colossians 1:27), and given power to love their enemies. We must pray for the resurrected Christ that lives in us to live through us, so that we, like Jesus, can love our enemy.
Along with praying, we also must be vigilant and resist the temptation to sin in this area of our lives. We must resist the temptation to have ugly thoughts about our enemy, or to speak unkindly about them, or to once again go over in our mind the bad things they have done to us in the past. We must not “fall” into these temptations; instead, we must pray constantly that we will not be “led” into them, praying as Jesus said to pray (Matthew 6:13). With our choice, faith, prayer, God’s Spirit, and Christ living in us according to Colossians 1:27, we can love our enemy.
Love Your Enemy: What Does That Look Like?
This does not mean all feelings of bitterness, injustice, dislike, etc. will vanish overnight. It would be nice if they did, and God can certainly do that if He chooses, but more likely there will be a lessening of these feelings as we choose to walk in faith (not feelings) , continue praying, and allow the Christ that lives in us to live through us. We must make the choice to NOT act on the old, negative feelings. Instead, with regard to our enemy, we choose to allow Christ in us to act as Jesus said to act. We surrender to His will, which is love.
Also, we must be prepared that, as soon as we repent, confess, and resolve to stop sinning in this area of our life, and choose instead to love our enemy, they will probably do something bad to us, which will tempt us to fall right back into hating them. WE MUST NOT FALL INTO THE TEMPTATION! Freedom lies in living by faith, not feelings. This is spiritual warfare, and only the power of the resurrected Christ that lives in each one of us can bring victory in this area of our lives!
Call to Action
Be sure to read the next post, Jesus Said Pray for Your Enemies to learn the key to victorious living in loving your enemy!