The YouTruth in Matthew 5:43
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’”
Loving enemies. Now that’s a hard one. Don’t you wish Jesus would quit teaching us to do all this hard stuff? And yet, here it is, plain and simple. So let’s see how we can pull this off.
Two shifts in perspective will be helpful:
Who is the enemy, really?
When we are dealing with enemies, it is important to understand that enemies are not who they seem to be. The Apostle Paul taught powerfully on this subject when he wrote in Ephesians 6:12:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
If we focus on people we may consider enemies, it is virtually impossible to love them. But if we understand that the true enemy is Satan, who has lured a person into the behavior of an enemy, then it is much easier. This doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself in harm’s way, or that you have to consider the person a close friend. It just means that you pray for the person, extend kindness when there is a safe opportunity to do so.
What makes an enemy?
Conflict makes enemies of people. Without conflict, people cannot truly be enemies. If your response to an “enemy’s” unkindness, is more unkindness, then you’ve made an enemy indeed. But if your response to an enemy’s mean-spirited action is forgiveness and love, the condition of conflict vaporizes. Just like it takes two to fight, it takes two to be enemies. If only one “enemy” is participating, then love can find its way into the situation, and perhaps, head off the whole enemy thing at the pass.