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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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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