“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.”
- Luke 6:27-30 (MSG)
There are two problems with the way that we handle these verses.
- We don’t do it. We continue to hate our enemies, and we misuse other parts of the Bible to support our position.
- We make too many unnecessary enemies.
We need to stop making everyone our enemies
Someone who thinks differently than you is not an enemy. They are someone with a different view. Someone who votes differently than you is not an enemy. They are a fellow American who has a different idea of how the country should grow. Someone you work with who wants the same promotion is not an enemy. They are a co-worker trying to do the best for themselves just like you are.
The sooner we stop thinking of people like these as enemies, the sooner we can view them as children of God rather than having to wrestle through what it means to love an enemy. When you stop thinking of someone as an enemy, it may be easier to embrace the second part of God’s greatest commandment, which is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Take a moment to think of who you consider an enemy in your life. Do you think they really qualify as enemies? Do they want to hurt you, steal from you or kill you? If the answer is no, you’re probably projecting too much onto them. They are different people who want different things, but you probably have more in common than you might think.
Enemies or not, you need to love them all the same.
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