Eugene Cho

what does it mean to love your enemy?

I saw this video recently and it mesmerized me. It’s an incredibly simple video but I needed to watch it several times to better understand and interpret it.

But it brought me back to the question,

“What does it mean to love your enemies?”

The Scriptures are clear and Jesus is clear that we are to forgive our enemies…

  • But how?
  • In every circumstance?
  • How do you ensure justice and still love your enemies?

For me…

while the process may look different for different people and different circumstances, forgiveness is me arriving at a place where I want my “enemy” to prosper and be blessed in the shalom of the Lord.

I would honestly love to hear and learn from you. How do you forgive?

Luke 6:27-36

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 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 children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Matthew 5:43-48

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[b] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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21 Responses

  1. Thank you for the post. Absolutely beautiful video. Thanks for sharing.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Chan, Christian Ray Flores. Christian Ray Flores said: check this out I saw this video recently and it mesmerized me. It’s an incredibly simple video but I … http://bit.ly/bFTzmM by Eugene Cho […]

  3. James says:

    “What does it mean to love your enemies?”

    I think we are supposed to love our enemies at all times. I’m pretty sure, for instance, that loving your enemies doesn’t ever involve shooting them.

    “How do you ensure justice and still love your enemies?”

    I think the most Christ-centric, Biblical approach, is to love all, and serve all, and let God handle the dealing out of justice.

  4. jchenwa says:

    To me, it means not returning evil for evil, but good for evil (and never evil for good!) Seeing your ‘enemies’ not as the enemy, but as someone who needs love and stuff – usually your stuff. Responding in this way, is Jesus’ Way and defies normal ideas of justice. But in my experience needs to be done prayerfully, because people can be merciless, and GOD doesn’t want you naked, hungry, out on the street either.

  5. …Love your enemy
    …Bless your enemy
    …Pray for your enemy
    …Do good to your enemy

    This is the beautiful and counter cultural message of the word of God. In our present day I think this is one of the messages that is the most difficult and overlooked.

    Today we (I) am more comfortable with

    …tolerate your enemy
    …curse your enemy
    …pray that your enemy will get what’s coming
    …ignore your enemy

    A good challenge for us to remember/realize our response to our enemy should be one of Proactive love. Proactive. Love.

    (In view of Gods mercy Romans 12:1)

  6. Joel Mayward says:

    I remember showing this video about a year ago to the group of junior highers I shepherd. I asked them afterwards, “who is your enemy?” They answered in generalities–adults, the media–and specifics–the bully in class, the girl who gossips about me.

    We all wondered aloud what we would have done if we were the stick figure on the right, the one pelted by rocks. Most said they would have either thrown rocks back or ran away (fight or flight, I suppose). Then I asked them how Jesus responded to His enemies when sinful humanity rejected and crucified Him.

    He forgave them.

    That takes humility and courage, seeing other people through the gracious eyes of Jesus. Loving your enemies begins with forgiveness.

  7. […] found out about this video on Eugene Cho’s blog. I thought it was pretty cool and a powerful way to jump start a conversation with children on […]

  8. Henry Zonio says:

    Great video! I definitely sharing it on my blog as something to use in children’s ministry to help children along the discovery process of what “loving your enemy” means.

    But as for your question… I heard someone say once that loving your enemy is giving up your perceived right to revenge. Within that context, it doesn’t mean that you usurp justice or “forget” what is done.

  9. Don Ibbitson says:

    I think that to love your enemies as Jesus commands begins with the same process as one forgives them. That is, we purpose and choose to love just like we choose to forgive out of our will. We cannot base forgiveness on how we feel and in like manner I suggest that we cannot base biblical love on our emotions. It is easy to love our family and friends and it is often emotion-based. Our love for our enemies, just as for friends and family, must result in loving actions.

  10. phyllisalyse says:

    eugene, thanks for sharing – what a great reminder. not just for dealing with enemies but even those already near and dear to our hearts.

  11. CC says:

    How do you resolve this with justification for war? As christians if we are to love our enemies does that mean we should oppose wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc…? Wars that were triggered by attacks on the US?
    Not an argument for any particular side, but a question on consistency. Can we love our enemies and support a war at the same time?

    • DR says:

      I do not believe there is any justification for war. I base this simply off of the example of Jesus. Jesus is fully God just as He was fully man. Despite, or because of, His God-nature/power, He freely sacrificed Himself in the face of animosity and hatred.

      Therefore, as Christians, I believe we are called to transcend violence in every circumstance. How can we love our enemy, and yet, go to war against said enemy? It is a contradiction. Christians, I believe, are also called to transcend nationalism. Jesus did not preach the Kingdom of [insert country name]. He preached the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of the Maker-of-All-That-Is-Seen-and-Unseen. I believe this leaves little room for nationalistic tendencies.

      As MLK Jr. explained, however, non-violence and love for your neighbor does not mean passivity. Quite the opposite! To respond to any situation in a loving and non-violent manner requires greater effort than resorting to violence!

      Lastly, as a believer in Christ’s resurrection and ascension, and (hopefully) my resurrection and life in the Kingdom to come, I believe I am called to recklessly and radically live a life of love, even if that requires placing my earthly life at risk. Why? Because I have faith that there is a life to come after this present life ends, and my devotion to love must witness to that fundamental Christian belief.

      I wish Christians were more consistent when it comes to Jesus’ message of love your enemy. There are, unfortunately, many other influences that get in the way of committing to this principle.

      Just as many Christians heckle politicians to ensure federal monies do not go to support abortions, I wish I could ensure the taxes I pay do not go to supporting our country’s industrial military complex. I seriously worry about being collectively held accountable by God as to how our tax dollars are spent.

  12. Josh Roberts says:

    Great post Eugene. These thoughts have been on my mind as well. I recently concluded a series at our faith community on the 7 Deadly Sins. When preparing to speak on the sin of wrath, I was reminded how often we want to get even when we feel we have been wronged.

    We may not always act out on these desires, but we sure do think about pouring out our wrath.

    Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:19-20 (ESV)

    When I choose my wrath over his, I’m saying to God that I know how to deal with this person more effectively than he does. When I choose my wrath over his, I lake the faith that God will take care of the situation.

  13. […] the video. Have them imagine themselves in both roles. Read Luke 6:27-36 and/or Matthew 5:43-48 (HT:EC). Have the kids tell you what they think Jesus is saying in those verses and how those verses might […]

  14. Jess O says:

    Thanks for blessing me with your writings.

    Please help a fellow believer raise some money by surfing on over to http://www.hybridhondas.com and clicking on a few of the sponsored links that interest you.

  15. […] seriously it’s hard to love your enemies when you can’t even hear what they’re […]

  16. […]  it’s hard to love your enemies when you can’t even hear what they’re saying… So, listen first. And don’t throw […]

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One Day’s Wages

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#TamirRice Incredible news: @onedayswages is projecting to have our most impactful year as we grant out $1.3 million dollars! Thank you so much for your prayers and support...please read on to learn how you can join in our work.

As you gather with family, friends, and loved ones for Thanksgiving and the holidays, I wanted to share an opportunity. Often times, when I speak to people about the privilege of generosity, I remind them, "You don't have to but you get to." It's so true.

My wife and I (and our three kids) started ODW in 2009. We felt the Holy Spirit convicting us to give up our year's salary. It wasn't an easy thing to say "Yes" or "Amen" to but we made the decision to obey. As a result, it took us about three years to save, simplify, and sell off things we didn't need.

It's been an incredible journey as we've learned so much about the heart of God and God's love for the hurting and vulnerable around the world - particularly those living in extreme poverty. ODW is a small, scrappy, grassroots organization (with just 3 full-time employees) but since our launch, we've raised nearly $6 million dollars to help those living in extreme poverty: clean water and sanitation, education, maternal health, human trafficking, refugee crisis, hunger, and the list goes on and on.

So, here's my humble ask: As we do this work, would you consider making a pledge to support our work...so that we can keep doing this work with integrity and excellence?
You can make a one time gift or make monthly pledge of just $25 (or more). Thanks so much for considering this: http://onedayswages.org/give (link in bio, too) Don't just count your blessings. Bless others with your blessings. Here, there, everywhere. Be a blessing for this blesses our Father in Heaven and builds the Kingdom of God.

#ReThinkRegugees #WeWelcomeRefugees
@onedayswages Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply.

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