If you have an enemy, just know that is normal.
We’re all different and bring various approaches to the table. Sometimes, there are people that just won’t like us. And that’s okay.
Sometimes, it’s more messy than that. They don’t simply dislike you – they hate you and take every opportunity to show it.
If that’s you and you know you need help with loving your enemies, read on.’
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What is an enemy?
First, let’s talk about what an enemy is.
An enemy is anyone who doesn’t like you and/or goes out of their way to show it. They might act hostile toward you or be emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and/or physically abusive.
They might not show that they don’t like you. Some people can be fake and act like they like you in your face but talk badly about you behind your back.
This could come from anyone – a former friend, family member, acquaintance, someone in authority, a coworker.
Why should we love our enemies?
You may be wondering why we should love our enemies in the first place.
Well, here are at least 4 reasons why you should love those who dislike/hate you.
Reason #1: Because Jesus tells us to.
First, we should love our enemies because Jesus tells us to.
“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,” (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV).
“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,” (Luke 6:35 NIV).
“If your enemy is hungry, get him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you,” (Proverbs 25:21-22 NIV).
This is counterintuitive to our nature. If someone is an enemy and being mean to us, most of us will want to be mean back. However, Jesus calls us to a greater love. It’s easy to love those who love us back. It’s harder to love those who don’t.
Reason #2: It will give you peace.
Following God’s precepts gives us peace. This is told to us throughout the Bible.
“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble,” (Psalm 119:165 NIV).
“When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him,” (Proverbs 16:7 NIV).
“The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever,” (Isaiah 32:17 NIV).
In the end, doing what’s right is what will give you peace, not doing what’s easy and natural.
Reason #3: Hate will destroy you.
If you choose hate rather than love, it will destroy you.
I love how a scene from the movie, Amish Grace, explains hate and what it does to you.
“Hate is a very big, very hungry thing with lots of sharp teeth and it will eat up your whole heart and leave no room left for love,” (Amish Grace, 2010).
It’s very true, hate doesn’t feel good. It can make you a bitter and ugly person. Trust me, you don’t want that. Love is the better way.
Reason #4: You may end up liking this person and making a friend.
Maybe you two started off on the wrong foot. It’s possible you showing love to this person will soften their heart and cause them to rethink how they treat you.
If this person is a family member or someone important in your life, making them a friend, rather than an enemy, could be very powerful and reconciling.
Just know that you don’t have to be their friend if you don’t want to though. If this person is toxic or abusive, please keep your distance.
4 Ways to Love Your Enemies
Okay, so you know who your enemies are and you know why you should love your enemies, but how do you even start?
#1: Detach yourself from the situation.
If something has happened between you and this person, you need to detach yourself from the situation. You might be saying, ‘Okay, but that’s easier said than done.’
That’s understandable. You’re most likely angry about the situation and it makes sense. You’ve been wronged and your feelings are valid.
The only way to heal from those feelings is to allow yourself to feel them. So, feel them. Write a letter to this person saying everything you’d ever want to say. Don’t hold back.
After you write this letter, burn it and let it go.
#2: Pray for them and for yourself.
God tells us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Praying for our enemies shows that we’re wishing them the best despite them hurting us. It’s a practical way to show love.
Don’t only pray for them but pray for yourself. This may sound selfish, but what I’m meaning is praying for help from God. Ask him to give you the strength to love this person, even if you don’t feel like it.
#3: Find common interests.
Another practical way to show love is to find common interests. Do you both like the same TV show or the same sport? Talk about it with them. Talking about common interests may have them realize that you two aren’t so different.
Disclaimer: This step is only relevant if you’re wanting to continue talking with this person. Again, if this person is toxic or abusive, I’d recommend keeping your distance.
#4: Remember that love is a choice.
Love is a choice that we make. It’s not simply led by emotion. Of course, it’s not void of emotion either. But we can choose love rather than hate.
Love is of God and anyone who truly loves is from God (1 John 4:7-8).
Ask God to give you the love you need to pour out onto this person. After all, we can only give what we’ve received.
Quotes on Loving Your Enemies
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“We cannot go on hating another man in the presence of God. The surest way of killing bitterness is to pray for the man we are tempted to hate.” -William Barclay
“[God] bestows His blessings without discrimination. The followers of Jesus are children of God, and they should manifest the family likeness by doing good to all, even to those who deserve the opposite.” – F.F. Bruce
“It is impossible to truly pray for someone and hate them at the same time.” – Kent Hughes, Supernatural Love
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