Love is a principle
Some ask: how can I love my enemies? This seems an impossible task to do. But the Bible teaches that Love is not just a feeling, it is a principle. Love is a decision based upon the human will. Jesus came to this earth, suffered and died because He wanted to save the human race. Man in his sinful state was not attractive nor desirable, yet God reached out for him (Romans 5:8). The love that God exercised toward man was not a response to any love man had for the Lord. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10).
Love your enemies
Sometimes a Christian will not be able to have feelings of love toward his enemies. Nevertheless, he is commanded to love them. Jesus said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:44-48).
The command would be impossible if it meant to have feelings of emotional warmth of affection that one usually feels towards his immediate family members. But the kind of love that God requires is the one that is under the control of the will. This kind of love means to treat one’s enemies with respect and kindness and to regard them as God regards them.
A follower of Christ is taught to leave revenge to God (Deuteronomy 32:35; Psalms 94:1, 4–7, 21–23; Romans 12:19–21). The Lord will vindicate and defend him before their enemies (Jeremiah 50:34). A person who is filled with thoughts of revenge is giving a place for the devil to fill him with anger and hatred. Instead he should allow for the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, and long-suffering) to fill his heart (Galatians 5:22).
A person can have love towards his enemies when he realizes that the people that hurt him are themselves captives and prisoners of the devil. And these individuals will be eternally lost and miss out on God’s amazing free gift of eternal life if they don’t repent. Their lost state, will lead the believer to have compassion over them. A Christian who has God has everything but those that don’t have God need the Christian’s love and prayers.
That’s how Jesus loved people. And His infinite compassion made Him pray even for those that crucified Him saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This prayer includes all sinners to the end of time, for all are guilty of the blood of Jesus and need His salvation.
The gift of love
It is God who gives the believer the ability to love his enemies by pouring His love into his heart. Once he makes the decision to love, God performs the miracle. “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). Through this gift, the Christian can do what was previously impossible to do – love his enemies. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) that is, for the person who is willing to allow God to control his mind (Philippians 4:13).
The test of Christianity
Love lived out in the life of the Christian is the greatest proof of the sincerity of his Christian experience (Isaiah 58:6–8; Matthew 25:34–40). It is the ultimate test of discipleship (1 John 4:20). For it reveals that the believer is in harmony with God. Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37–40).
Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.
In His service,