Love my family? Will do, Lord, even though we get one each other’s nerves.
Love my neighbor? No problem, even when we disagree on how to handle road maintenance.
Love my friends? They are MY friends, after all! Easy!
But love my enemy? How, Lord, am I to love my enemy?
I want to! I really, really do.
Because you command it in Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” And in Luke 6:27, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”
Seriously, though? Am I not justified in my rage for my one true enemy? She hates me so fervently that she plots and pursues ways to tear me down with my peers and cast doubt with my boss.
And then again in Luke 6:15: “But 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. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
The only words that jump out at me are “ungrateful” and “wicked”! This woman sets out each day to uproot my relationships and destroy my career. How, oh Lord, am I am to love this enemy?
This scenario was real for me several years ago. One of the darkest years of my life was fraught with the struggle between the damage done by a coworker and knowing God’s command to love her. Before, I would have been able to honestly say that I had no known enemies. That year God showed me what a real enemy is while showing me what true love is.
Every day that I went into the office I would find some way that this woman had undermined my authority or wreaked havoc on a relationship. And every day that I went home I would weep while asking God to replace my anger, rage, and confusion with love.
His answer came about three quarters of the way into that terrible year.
He had me turn to 1 Corinthians 13. It may seem like an obvious answer, but I had only really considered the “love” chapter in terms of romance. At the bottom of the page in my NIV study bible were the words that broke open the mystery for me: “…love.
The Greek for this word indicates a selfless concern for the welfare of others that is not called forth by any quality of lovableness in the person loved, but is the product of a will to love in obedience to God’s command. It is like Christ’s love manifested on the cross.”
God used that study note to bring forth a love larger than I ever imagined... For my enemy.
He revealed my own unlovableness and how deeply he intended for us to love another. The remainder of that dark year, I was empowered to show her love in spite of her continued vendetta. I was equipped to be merciful as my father is merciful. I was surprised that she ultimately quit the organization. Many years passed, but recently, we reconciled. I am certain it happened only because God’s love overcame hate.
Is God calling you to love someone despite no quality of lovableness on their part?
Karen is a Christian wife and mother who blogs to encourage others by sharing how God's son, Spirit, and Word have transformed her life. Her work and ministry experience includes freelance writing, production for newspapers and magazines, church volunteer management, curriculum and training development and serving as a staff member and volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.