Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Love is mentioned in the Bible hundreds of times. Of course, it depends on the version of the Bible you read. In the King James Version (KJV), love is mentioned 310 times. It appears 131 times in the Old Testament and 179 times in the New Testament.
Sometimes the word "love" is in a scripture about how much God loves us. At other times, it is a command for us to love God. Then there are times when the Bible says to love our enemies.
The person who is not a disciple of Christ might wonder what why God commands us to love our enemies who hurt us and do us harm. Those who don't love God who loves them will find it very hard to love their enemies who don't love them.
Love is such a strong emotion that means different things in certain situations. Love has a large range of meanings. In the New Testament, there are certain Greek words for love. That word could mean loving our family and friends in a different way than loving our enemies. However, God wants us to love everyone.
Let's try to understand why God tells us to love one another, including our enemies.
Reasons to Love Our Enemies
We should love our enemies because God commands us to do so. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that we should love our enemies.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
After telling the multitudes to love their enemies, Jesus went a step further. He also commanded them to pray for their enemies. Then He gave a reason. He said so they may be sons of God who is in heaven.
We know that the world doesn't love their enemies. The world expects us to hate those who hate us. but God wants His people to live by a higher standard than the world. He wants people to love their enemies.
Why Should We Love Our Enemies?
Even though the world says to hate our enemies, God says to do the opposite. In fact, He was emphatic about loving our enemies just as He loves us. God knows we might not have a problem loving our family and friends and those who are nice to us. He also knows it would be extremely challenging for us to love those who mistreat us and disrespect us.
A very big question is: So why does God want us to love our enemies? Without faith, some people will never understand that God wants us to love our enemies because our enemies can do something for us that loving our family and friends cannot do. So, what can our enemies do for us that is good?
Martin Luther King Jr. - "Love Your Enemies" Speech
How Loving Your Enemies Can Help You
There are several positive benefits that come as a result of loving your enemies.
- First of all, when you love your enemies, you are obeying God.
- Loving your enemies will bring you closer to God by keeping you on our knees as you pray for them just as you were commanded to do.
- When you obey the command to love your enemies, it keeps you from taking the law into your own hands by seeking revenge.
- The Bible tells you to overcome evil with good. That happens when you love your enemies just as God loves you.
- When you love your enemies, you eliminate hatred from your heart and you show that Jesus is the Lord of your life.
- When you love your enemies, you grow and develop spiritually.
- When people love you, you might think you are exactly the way you are supposed to be. However, your enemies will force you to take a closer look at your life. Your enemies will show you your faults whereas your friends cannot, do not, and will not.
- Your enemies can cause you to make major changes. Loving our enemies stretches you in areas that are overlooked by friends. Your enemies can help you to grow spiritually.
What Happens When You Can't Love Your Enemies?
We might know what God said about loving our enemies, but some people admit that they just can't love those who have hurt them. God knows that it might not be easy for some people to love others. Therefore, He has a remedy for that.
When it is impossible for us to love our enemies by our own efforts, there is a way that is highly possible to do so. Often it is only through the power of God’s Spirit that His people can truly love and pray for those who intend to do them harm, according to Romans 12:14-21. When we can't love through our own heart, we should pray that God would allow us to love through His heart which is fair, just, honest and very well capable of loving those who are unloveable.
Jesus taught that “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on May 14, 2019:
Thank you for your thoughts on this subject. I always look forward to reading your religion based posts!
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on May 14, 2019:
Hey, Magaret, I agreed that our friends can over look our faults and so on. But an enemy points out all or some of these. You really makes some points. Thanks for sharing.