7 “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 to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 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.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children 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. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[b]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
A friend asked me this week, what do I pray for my enemies? Years ago, I worked in a Christian environment, and it wasn’t long before an enemy presented herself. This lady would do all manner of hurtful things. The shocking part was she was a Christian. At the time, I had no idea I’d be in that work situation for 10 years. But that’s where Jesus kept me, so I had to learn to get along with this person. On my way home one day, the Spirit reminded me that He loved her as much as He loved me. That truth likely began my journey to please God in that situation.
When my friend asked me how to pray for her enemies, I immediately thought of my past work situation.
Jesus’ biblical commands, at first glance, present an impossible task for His children. I submit that all Biblical teaching, precepts, and commands are impossible. But thankfully, Christians have God’s divine power to lead a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). Knowing this power is within should motivate us, but it might cause us to question why we struggle to live it out.
No one likes their rights trampled on. Plus, Christians and unbelievers alike have lots of pride. Many times we live for ourselves. In this area, often, we can live like the world, walking in darkness. And we justify ourselves. All this gives us plenty of obstacles to carrying out these biblical mandates.
We should approach these passages with a spirit of obedience. Jesus is good, right, and just in all His ways. Jesus expects His followers to act toward enemies as He teaches us.
Most of our problems come with our rebellion against what Jesus asks. We are good at developing alternative plans, rationalizations, and reasons to ignore uncomfortable commands. These commands in this passage require a dying to self on the front end. If you don’t, you will add an enemy to the situation, yourself.
At the point of our salvation in Christ, each of God’s children receives the promised Holy Spirit. Acts of obedience are accomplished only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So what does it take to love our enemies, as Jesus outlines in these passages?
-Die to yourself first
-Obey all that Jesus outlines here.
-Remember, you have the power inside you to do what pleases God. He doesn’t ask His children to do anything without the power of the Holy Spirit. He never expects us to act on our own will, ability, or desire. He looks to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him( 2 Chronicles 16:9).
Luke 6:31 assumes we want to bless our enemies since we would like to be treated this way too. Jesus is trying to help us see that sometimes we are the enemy. But we don’t want to hear that. They are the wicked ones, not us. But this is not what Jesus implies. Our self-righteousness hangs us. His demands are high. Verse 35 is in no way speaking of earning your salvation. It implies that should you choose the biblical way of relating to your enemies, then you are being like Jesus. He is the only perfect one.
Matthew 5:48 only highlights Jesus’ desire for His children to obey the command to love one’s enemies by declaring perfection before God when we do these actions toward our enemy. When we act as He desires, we are becoming more like Him. He is the perfect example.
So why is God so hard on us?
The whole Bible is about the redemption and salvation of all men. Behavior like this is so counter to human nature. What would happen if we decided to behave as Jesus tells us? What effect would our Christian behavior have on the world, our families, and our workplace?
There is a high probability that our enemy will see Christ in us, and God will get the glory(Matthew 5:16). What is the outcome of this example? Possible reconciliation. Certain forgiveness in your heart(the offended one), possible salvation in Christ Jesus for the enemy. This behavior can potentially have such eternal ramifications that Jesus spells out precisely what to do. The details are clear. A life well lived in demanding situations with our enemies is a good witness. If nothing else, it gives your enemies a good impression of what Christianity is.
So my friend asked, “How do I pray?” Suppose any of God’s children decide to take God at His Word and follow these instructions. In that case, you will be praying throughout the process for yourself, and your enemy, and those prayers are coming from our Counselor, the promised Holy Spirit. I know this because if you decide in your heart to follow Jesus in obedience, then He will teach you how to pray, and behave.
As a child of God, you can’t read these requirements for your obedience without being impacted. You must know that whether you are mistreated for persecution or just another believer being mean-spirited toward you, God wants you to leave revenge with Him. Your assignment is to pray for all you will need to obey God, and then go in obedience to your enemy and begin your task.
Do these passages take into account loving those who never respond redemptively? Do they offer anything for the offended one? I can tell you from experience that God left me in an office with someone ten years before delivering me. When He did, I left knowing I’d been obedient to Him. I’d learned my lesson, and I left at peace with myself and that person.
Some people have enemies hundreds of miles away. Maybe you have forgiven them, and for you, they are no longer an enemy. But you know they still view you as their enemy. Your requirement is to do all these passages outlined and leave the result in God’s care. Everyone is not interested in redemption. Whether your enemy is interested in redemption or not, be sure you are interested in redemption.
Let’s be sure we desire to please God and not just get revenge or keep the offense alive. Situations of injustice make enemies. Situations with enemies make Christians Christian. To act like Christ, we must focus on Christ, remember His suffering, how He acted before His enemies, and how little he talked before His enemies.
Praying, giving, loving, and blessing are all required of Christ’s followers. It is how we become most like Jesus and how our enemies in life know we are Christians. I believe Jesus spends so much time teaching about this because it is one of the most profound ways to lay down our lives and to show His love to others.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article. If you aren’t signed up already, please add your email below, and hit subscribe. Each time I publish, you will receive Winning Ways to Follow Jesus in your email first. Blessings.