Love your worst enemies
It's easy to love our friends, but much harder to love those who hate us.
Jesus said some tough things from time-to-time, but one of the hardest commands he gave his followers is found in Matthew 5:43-44...
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
Of course, it's easy to say this to other people, but when we're asked to do it in our own lives, that's when things get tricky. What about that bully at school? What about that girl that says mean things about you? What about those so-called 'friends' who keep talking about you behind your back? Does Jesus say I have to love them too? Yes, he does.
God cares for the evil
If you're like me, and you find this teaching difficult to implement in your life, then we need to look to two examples given in the Bible. The first one continues on from the same part of the Bible, Matthew 5: 44-45...
"...Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Do you see what these verses are saying? Even though people are evil and they hate God, he still cares for them! He sends them sunshine and rain, and provides food, shelter and lots of other good things. Do they/we deserve it? Of course not! But that's what God is like, and that's what he wants us to be like too.
Jesus loved us while we were enemies
The other part of the Bible that's really helpful here is Romans 5:7-8 which says...
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Bible says that when Jesus died for us we were not good people. We were sinners. In fact, verse 10 of this chapter says he died for us "while we were enemies". So, if this is how Jesus treated us, shouldn't that be how we treat others too?
How to love your enemies
Here's a few ways you can show love for those people in your life that you really don't get along with:
- Pray for them. Ask God to save them and to give them his Spirit.
- Ask God to help you forgive them when they hurt you.
- Don't provoke other people to anger.
- Don't retaliate. We become just like our enemies when we sink to their level. Jesus says we need to be the better person.
- Ask for help. If you are being bullied or teased and finding it hard, get some help. Often, bullies have lots of troubles of their own & they are acting out because they can't cope with their own problems. By seeking help from a teacher, parent or other professional, the bully can be spoken to. This could lead to them getting the help they need.
- Be patient. People do change over time, and if you continue to show a godly attitude, you will earn the respect of others. As time goes by, they may wonder what you have that makes you so calm. It's a great way to witness to the power of Jesus in your life.