Wednesday: Love Your Enemies

The supreme proof of genuine Christianity is loving our enemies. Jesus established this high standard in contrast with the prevalent idea of His time. From the commandment, You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18, NKJV), many had inferred something the Lord never said or planned: you shall hate your enemy. Of course, that wasn’t implied in the text itself.

Image © Jim Work from

Image © Jim Work from

In what practical ways is love toward our enemies manifested, according to Christ? See Luke 6:27-28.

An adversary can show us enmity in three different ways: by a hostile attitude (hate you), through bad words (curse you) and with abusive actions (spitefully use you and persecute you [Matt. 5:44, NKJV]). To this threefold expression of enmity, Christ instructs us to respond with three manifestations of love: doing good actions to them (do good to them), speaking well of them (bless them), and interceding before God for them (pray for them). The Christian’s answer to hostility and antagonism is to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).

Notice: Jesus requests us first to love our foes and then, as a result, to demonstrate this love through good actions, kind words, and intercessory prayer. Without heaven-inspired love, those actions, words, and prayers would be an offensive and hypocritical forgery of true Christianity.

What reasons did Jesus mention to explain why we have to love our enemies? See Luke 6:32-35.

In order to help us to understand this high command, the Lord used three arguments. First, we need to live above the low standards of the world. Even sinners love each other, and even criminals help each other. If following Christ doesn’t raise us to live and love in a way superior to the virtue of the children of this world, what would its value be? Second, God will reward us for loving our enemies; even though we do not love for the reward, He will grant it graciously to us. And third, this type of love is an evidence of our close communion with our heavenly Father, who is kind to the unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35, NKJV).



Wednesday: Love Your Enemies — 28 Comments

  1. Before relating to outright enemies there is something closer to home the Christian might try to deal with.

    By the slightest provocation or perceived insult one may be drawn to respond with a rancorous retort and justify it as one’s defense against a bruised reputation. Nevertheless, it serves the faithful well to put the best ‘spin’ on the verbal attacks from others, and rather than dwell on same find something worthwhile in the life of the attackers to give attention. Then take the next step of moving to protect the reputation of those whose slanderous words have pierced the sensitive shell which clothes one.

    We have especially a responsibility to guard the reputation of parents, who might not have done a good job, and children who seem ungrateful, and brethren who may not be the most spiritual and have slighted us.

    It is not on us to be on guard or to aggressively shield our own reputation against every apparent censure which may cause offense. God will take care of that to the extent that He plans to use our reputation in His cause. In any case whatever harm may be done to our reputation by others, none can injure the character, but ourselves. The more stable the character the less concern there might be about one’s reputation. And reputation cannot make up for character deficiency. Jesus did not revile when others reviled against Him (1 Peter 2:23).

    Taking the aforementioned steps prepares us to respond rightly to the outright enemies. After all we face the footmen before contending with horses (Jeremiah 12:5)

    • Thank you! I needed to hear that! Thanks for allowing the Father to mininister to my soul and mind and spirit through you. You are a blessing!

  2. This lesson could save someone from serious disease if practiced in the Spirit of Christ. Bad feelings against someone could not only cause trouble for the person the grudge is held against but for the one who holds the grudge. Feelings are powerful for good and bad in our lives. Love and forgiveness are not natural to us but are vital in maintaining sanity and good health. In Christ true love and forgiveness are possible even though it may be a new way for us to think and feel.

    We might feel we have the right to hold a grudge, but that doesn't make good or right or healthy for us. With God's Love we can do the impossible!

  3. This lesson study comes at a time when I am struggling with loving inspite of. Experiences on my job has caused me to develope ill feelings with coworkers who have chosen to display jealous towards my job performance. With constant prayer and consistantcy I am able now to speak to those coworkers without having a negative spirit. I thank God for His word!!! Loving my enemies isn't ears but I know I have God on my side.

    • I can handle enemies on the jobsite, but, handling family members who decide to be enemies is very difficult and tests my very faith and love. I have to remind myself everyday that I also am not perfect and that the same love I need, I have to show to them also, despite the situation

  4. I believe the holy spirit does it all for us, all we need to do is to let it dwell in us and it will manifest its presence through our actions. Because without it we could be pretending that we love our enemies but inside we hate them

    • The Holy Spirit will always do it for us. Our response is to surrender all to Jesus or our effort is in vain. Our surrender to Jesus activates faith which releases the Holy Spirit to complete the work in us.

  5. I like Wellie Chikuni'S comment August 12 But I must point out that The Holy Spirit is not an (it) He is the third person of the Godhead (as was studied in a eacent lesson), and should be referred to using the personal pronoun

  6. We cannot love our enemies, unless the Holy Spirit is in our heart and leading our lives, also reminding us that we are representatives of Jesus, back to our memory in the times of 'crisis', or abuse, or temptation or to do good to those who hate you, or even bless those who curse you, because your 'self' begin to make demands for revenge, or try to pray for those who 'hate' you. Only by the indwelling of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit can we become 'overcomes'. Jesus met Satan with the scriptures, 'it is written' and so we have to do the same. God bless.

  7. Love should surpass barriers set by satan if we are to emulate the love of God that was demonstrated on the cross. By giving out his blood as a ransom for humanity sin he demonstrated love that transcends all satanic barrier or boundaries. Let us show this love to our enemies so we can reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and as true disciples with visionary mission to reach all corners of the earth with true testimony and witness of Jesus Christ we have overcome enemity with love. Philadelphia song we are used to singing in our churches should be very meaningful. I am always very disappointed with our theoretical , not practical christianity that pretends on true foundation of love of Jesus Christ. He laid his life even for everyone.

    • The love of Christ when resides in us and live a selfless life we will touch many people and draw nigh to Christ......Let this be our prayer.....Christ may fill our longing to yield to His Spirit

  8. This lesson is important for all of us who want to b more like Christ. It has hit home for me, due to the fact that I went through an unemployment case and my employer accused me of everything except murder. They gave every reason why I shouldn't receive unemployment.
    I Thank God I was not made or bitter it made me a better person. The Holy Spirit took control of me and them too. Therefore I came out the winner. Even tho they have appealed the Judges decision I am still not bitter or mad. In the end God is still the Judge and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Love your Enemies.

  9. I agree with a lot of what was said already. Holding grudges is truly a disease that slowly eats away at our souls year after year. My best friend still holds a grudge against his old roommate for disrespecting the house and telling him off several times. This might seem trivial, but this grudge gas truly hurt my friend, for he gets angry and frustrated every time that roommate is mentioned. Another form of holding a grudge is through relationships. One of my coworkers is still angry with her ex boyfriend for a bad breakup. But what she fails to realize is that if she continues to hold a grudge, that person still has power over her. Instead, it is better to ask God to liberate her from the bonds of hatred and bitterness. Thank the Lord for being able to liberate us from the prison of hatred we out ourselves in.

  10. wow! I just found out a friend is a pedophile and was targeting young girls gaining trust of parents and guardians by professing Christianity….

    am trying to apply this lesson to this situation. How do I do good, speak good, pray for this guy?

    He admits he did these things, but quickly follows it up with telling me how much God loves him and has forgiven him and is even now blessing him. I responded that it is very true he is forgiven AND it is also true that there are consequences to choosing to molest children… he will never be trusted around children again and I would be making his secret public in order to protect other children. He cannot be arrested because the children fought him off as children so he was not able to proceed with the evil against them, and the children are adults now. The secret was kept by the children for many years because of the way the pedophile arrange things. Anyways, what are your thoughts…. what good would you say and do and what would you pray for regarding this pedophile?

    • We know that it is common for pedophiles to profess Christianity and gain positions of trust. Some are even church elders and pastors. That doesn't mean we have to distrust all elders and pastors.

      In our churches, we need to ensure that children are safe by not allowing situations where an adult is alone with a child behind closed doors. All doors to children's class rooms should have windows in them. Ideally, there should be no closets in which to hide. (Most churches already have these safeguards in place. If yours doesn't, approach the board to make sure these are put in place.)

      As parents we need to teach our children to be safe by telling them not to go along with any adult that wants to take them any place alone. In fact, they should always ask permission to go with anyone, and we should very carefully consider what permission we give. (Relatives may be pedophiles as well.) Some friends of ours never allowed their children at "sleepovers," and we respected them for it. As a matter of fact, our children never went on sleepovers either. Children should never be forced to be friendly to or hug someone with whom they feel uncomfortable. That's so they learn to trust their instincts. They should know that no on has the right to touch them in certain places, and they should not allow any touching that makes them uncomfortable. Teach them to call very loudly for HELP if any adult tries to do something to them that makes them uncomfortable.

      As for a known pedophile (even if not convicted in a court of law): He/she should never be allowed to be alone with children. He should be accompanied to rest rooms. If such a person is truly repentant, s/he will not object to such safe-guards. And settin up these safe-guards is not being "unloving." That's helping the person not to be led into temptation, and that's a loving thing to do. Certainly we can and should pray for pedophile sinners as we pray for other sinners. We should pray that their consciences are quickened and that they are not led into temptation so they will not yield to it. We should pray for their salvation. But we should NOT allow them around our children.

      While we must believe that pedophiles can change, since God can do anything, we must also remember that the record indicates that the chances of a pedophile changing are very slim, and we cannot read the heart. Thus we cannot know whether or not a pedophile has truly changed. In order to gain access to children, pedophiles learn to be very manipulative, and it is not safe to trust the image they present to the world. So pray for them and keep them away from children.

  11. My comment, we should look what Elisha did to a Scholar who went to cut down trees to build a shelter. Unfortunately the ax fall down into a Jordan river. He was poor and come from a poor family. He had nothing to do since the ax borrowed. But Elisha shows Gods love by floating the ax a thing that never happen or will not happen a steel to float. It was done by Gods love. For our neighbours we need to pray hard for them. Even in the church
    Thank you.

  12. But while we are required to be Christlike toward those who are our enemies, we must not, in order to have peace, cover up the faults of those we see in error. Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, never purchased peace by covering iniquity, or by anything like compromise. Though His heart was constantly overflowing with love for the whole human race, He was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course which would ruin their souls—the souls He had purchased with His own blood. He was a stern reprover of all vice, and His peace was the consciousness of having done the will of His Father, rather than a condition of things that existed as the result of having done His duty.

  13. I have my own small business, and I currently have a staff member who is very efficient at her job, but seems to also try to undermine me at times, I've also wondered about her overall honesty. While I'm getting advice on how handle, looking at training and other options ... this lesson is a reminder on how I need to approach her now - today, in love, and God will work this situation out for me.

    • Jacqui, it sounds like you may be dealing with someone with a covert-aggressive personality. It is not necessarily loving to allow such a person to get away with their deceptive behavior. Years ago, someone wrote a book with the title, "Loving Enough to Confront," and the title is probably as helpful as the book itself in that it makes clear that it is often more loving to confront honestly and courteously, rather than to let a situation fester and get worse.

      When we love our children, we discipline them. We don't let them continue in negative behavior, and that's the loving thing to do. Of course, we are not in a position to "discipline" adults, but the principle applies: We can honestly confront them courteously about their negative behavior.

      I just read a book on manipulative personalities, and it makes some positive suggestions. As an employer, state your expectations clearly. If something doesn't look/sound right to you, ask direct question. Don't accept anything but a direct answer to a direct questions. (Manipulators try to avoid direct answers.) Don't accept blame-shifting or excuses. (This may or may not apply in your situation. You can claim the promise of James 1:5, and trust the Lord to give you wisdom.) The Lord hasn't promised to do for us those things for which he has given us strength and intelligence to accomplish.

      I pray that the Lord will give you wisdom in your situation.

      • Yes Inge - I do agree - and I'm getting advice on how to handle the matter. In the process though - I don't want to hate the person but to deal with the situation in love ... thanks so much for your input it did define it in a way that I had not.

  14. I agree that we should be kind and loving toward our enemies. However, when our enemy disguises themselves as a friend it is even harder to follow through with this as we are emotionally involved. And its even worse when that "friend" is passive/aggressive. To continue to do good deeds for this type of person only enables them to continue their destructive behavior; because for them it is power and control over you and others. You have to actually set consequences(discipline if you will) for their misconduct, sarcasm or hurtful words. I have this going on in my own life right now. A woman who I have continuously helped when in reality she didn't need it. It was her way of controlling me and I did not realize this until just recently. She smiles at me and says she loves me, but behind her back is a has been extremely difficult to assess how I should respond in a way that glorifies God but also let's her know I will not tolerate her abuse. Any comments on this are welcome.

  15. Loving your enemies does not mean that you have to trust them, nor does it mean that they should escape justice. If my accountant embezzles money from me, then the trust that I had in him has been broken. Loving my enemy does not mean that I keep him on as my accountant. And depending on the circumstances, justice may mean that he spend some time in a custodial sentence. Loving your enemy has to be tough love.

    I remember a case where a young woman was raped and brutally murdered by a group of men. They were brought to justice and imprisoned for life. Many years later one of the men expressed remorse for what he had done and asked to speak to the father of the woman. The father listened to the man and thanked him for expressing his remorse. It was a fitting "loving your enemy" response in the situation. The father simply did not show vindictiveness towards the enemy.

    Sometimes loving your enemy means that you stay out of their way. It is inevitable in this world that some people will be your enemies no matter what you do. "Loving your enemies" does not mean that you place yourself in a position where they can express their anger at you. Strategic withdrawal from the situation is the best way to love your enemy in such circumstances.

    • And that is exactly what Jesus did when the situation got too hot to handle. He simply withdrew which is what biblical wrath is.

  16. Wow, this topic of loving your enemies is a real test of character.I thank God for his Holy spirit which I'd be nothing without him! Just a time ago I had a pastor who was and is a pedophile case as well. He manged to whirl me also into his web of victims, manipulated me to the highest level, mentally but most especially spritually especialy that he had such a great position in the church that he leads. This went on for so long it nearly killed me. By Gods grace I spoke the whole truth to the body of leadership and left the church to an extent that I even believe that its a cult rather than a place to heal Gods children. So this case of loving your enemies for me is really a point where need God to just help me forget everything every sort of abuse that was inflicted on me by this proffessed Bishop. Let us love our enemies because that is our true calling, as high standard as it is, but if our Lord and savior could do it! I BELIEVE that so can we, by the help of the HOLY SPIRIT no matter how hard we may think it to be but we need to its just a standard that we are called for. JESUS HEALS broken hearts, and he will give us STRENGTH daily to handle such crippling trails such as abuse to ourselves & loved ones. May God Bless you all.

    • To be abused by a person professing to be a representative of Christ is deeply traumatic, and my heart goes out to you. I understand it is difficult to separate the abuser from the church and from Christ. But that is necessary.

      In order to forgive, we must first blame someone for what they did. Often abusers make the victim take the blame, and that is not right. Put the blame where it belongs - on the abuser. Then you can forgive the abuser, so that you no longer have to carry the burden of bitterness. Forgiveness on your part does not necessarily mean a restored relationship. If you have the courage to do so, it is helpful to confront the abuser and report the person to the proper authorities in the church and in the country. After that, it might be best to avoid the person.

      Love does not mean that we must support individuals in evil-doing. Pedophiles do not see themselves as doing evil. They fool themselves into thinking they are "loving" the child they are abusing. If they are ever to stop their evil behavior, they must be enabled to see their behavior for what it is - evil. And for that to happen, they need to be reported to authorities and face the consequences. Then they may be able to repent, and without repentance, God cannot forgive them.

      Thus reporting a criminal to the authorities may be the most "loving" thing to do.

      I pray that you may be able to see clearly that the bishop who abused you did not represent Christ. In fact he represented Satan, for he is the abuser. Christ loves you as His child. He will heal your broken heart and give you peace.

  17. Thank you for all the comments on loving our enemies. I have struggled with this for 50 years, I was seriously abused sexually as a child of 7 and this remains unknown to my parents to this day. My father unwittingly created this situation and I always thought it was my fault. I try not to judge my father, who has had several affairs but remains in his marriage and the church. I left the church for many years but the Holy Spirit never left me. I am now a baptised member and grateful that God never gave up on me. I have forgiven my abusers, I am still trying to forgive my father. This lesson has helped me to see that it is God's place to judge not me- but it is hard to let go. I pray for wisdom to manage this situation.


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