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?
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?
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.
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.
21 Replies to “what does it mean to love your enemy?”
Thank you for the post. Absolutely beautiful video. Thanks for sharing.
“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.
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.
…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)
thanks for this comment. made me think even more.
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.
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.
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.
“Our love for our enemies, just as for friends and family, must result in loving actions.”
Actions speak louder than words.
eugene, thanks for sharing – what a great reminder. not just for dealing with enemies but even those already near and dear to our hearts.
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?
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.
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.
Thanks for blessing me with your writings.
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