One Sunday morning, I preached on loving your enemies. That afternoon I was yelling at a guy in the grocery store parking lot who I thought was being a jerk. I needed to go back and listen to my message.
Why are some people so hard to love?
Jesus didn’t say loving your enemies would be easy. But he did say that if you love them, you would be acting as his child. He said, “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High.” (Luke 6:35)
So how do you do it?
When the heat turns up, how do you choose between the mean person inside who wants to rip their head off and the Jesus inside that wants to love them just as they are?
Here are three simple practices to love your friend, the enemy.
Pray for the right attitude
In heated or awkward situations, I often take a deep breath and say a quick prayer in my heart, asking God to give me patience and wisdom. I find that, more often than not, this simple practice helps me to control my emotions and feelings and allows me to be sensitive to what God would have me do.
Prayer puts me in the proper focus for every situation.
While teaching on loving your enemy, Jesus said, “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, 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.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
Next time you’re in a challenging situation with someone, take a moment to pray for them in your heart. Ask God to bless them and give you the right words to say. The situation might not change, but you’ll be surprised how much your response does.
Take the position of a servant
Many of the “people problems” we have in life stem from our ego and selfishness. We often say, “It’s my way or the highway.” But that’s not the way Jesus tells us to respond. Instead, he wants us to “do good to them.”
The Bible says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
If you really want to act like God’s child, go out of your way to do something good for someone you consider to be unfriendable. It will change your life!
Remember, Jesus loved you when you were his enemy.
The Bible says, “while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10)
Did you catch that? Before surrendering your life to Jesus, you were God’s enemy. But he chose to be your friend by taking the form of a servant and coming to earth to die for you so that you could be counted as his friend.
Jesus is the single greatest example of how to love your enemy. Now go and do likewise. If you do, Jesus said, “your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High.”