Skip to Content

This Commandment Didn’t Make Jesus Very Popular

hand giving orange flowers to an open hand with red finger nails reaching towards the flowers
May 1, 2023
Steven Price

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. – Luke 6:35

We can wrap our minds around a lot of the instructions the Bible gives us, such as don’t kill and don’t steal (Exodus 20:13,15), but Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) is a bit harder to swallow.

When you hear that command, what is your initial reaction? Probably, “No way pal, I’m out.” You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that. I’ve been there too. In fact, many turned away from Jesus after He gave this instruction, but they turned away without getting to the heart of the matter.

Jesus was NOT talking about having natural affection for our enemies; what He was talking about was CHOOSING our attitude toward them. This isn’t the kind of love and affection that you can just fall into – it comes from a conscious choice.

Loving our enemies means to stop seeking revenge and retaliation…It means to act in their best interests. I know that statement feels contrary to what you may feel right now toward someone who has become an enemy; Maybe it’s even contrary to what you’ve been told, but that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, what’s the answer? How do you and I have compassion for our enemies? We can start with these two steps:

1. Praying for them. This might not be easy, but God won’t hold that against us. We can be honest with Him about how we feel and ask that He soften our hearts toward these people as we pray on their behalf.

2. Putting ourselves in their shoes. After we pray for someone, we can try to understand them. More than likely, we don’t know ALL that our enemies are going through and dealing with. Even if we do know about what they’re going through, we can’t fully comprehend it and it’s complexity because we aren’t them. We’re not living their struggle.

These two small efforts can feel like giant leaps when we’re dealing with someone we find hard to love or forgive. However, by praying and putting ourselves in their shoes, we’re practicing being more like Jesus. We are exhibiting just a fraction of the radical compassion He embodied during His life on Earth. The most critical part, though, is that God will meet us in the midst of our efforts and help us love in a way we could never achieve on our own.

We don’t have to do this alone.

God loves the whole world. All of it. Every part. Even, and especially, those who are in active rebellion against Him. Crazy, isn’t it? Guess what? That’s the love our Father has for us. It’s wild. Jesus set the example, and it’s our choice to make the effort to follow it.

Do we want God to forgive us? Then we should grant our enemies the same respect.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” – Colossians 3:13-14

More SHINE Daily

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. A cookie is a small text file containing information that a website transfers to your computer’s hard disk for record-keeping purposes and allows us to analyze our site traffic patterns. It does not contain chocolate chips, you cannot eat it, and there is no special hidden jar.