Resolve to Love Your Enemies
But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven. – Matt. 5:44-45
It’s a long-standing tradition to have a New Year’s resolution – a commitment to change something about your behavior for the better in the coming year. Common New Year’s resolutions include attempts to practice healthier eating habits, increase physical exercise, practice better financial discipline, engage in a particular spiritual discipline, or adjust the way we respond to and treat other people. On the whole, the idea is that we will be better at being the person we hope to be – a healthier, more authentic and consistent expression.
When we consider what we could resolve to change to be a healthier, more authentic and consistent expression of a Christian – a person who believes they are empowered by the spirit of Christ to live and act as he did – there is one particular practice that stands in stark contrast to the way most of us live our lives, and that is to love our enemies. At our best, we often endure and tolerate our enemies, but this is not what Jesus taught and enabled us to do.
Anything short of love toward another person is an un-Christian posture. It’s hard enough to accept this teaching from Jesus and is harder still to practice it. But this could be the year, if we resolve daily, to love our enemies.
This week, carefully reflect on your attitude and actions toward those you’d rather keep at bay, people you feel are against you, people you feel in competition with, people you believe are opposed to you, people you fear want to hurt you, people you think don’t like you and possibly people you don’t like. As you think about your posture toward these people, consider what it might look like to truly love them.
Love is not a static position, it’s a moment-to-moment choice and attitude communicated only through action. Taking 1 Corinthians 13 as our definition of love, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself as you endeavor to love your enemies:
- Am I patient with my enemies?
- Am I kind to my enemies?
- Do I envy my enemies?
- Do I brag about and defend my achievements in front of my enemies?
- Do I act like I’m better than my enemies?
- Am I rude to my enemies?
- Do I want my good at the expense of my enemies’ good?
- Am I easily angered by my enemies?
- Do I keep a record of my enemies’ wrongs?
- Do I delight when bad things happen to my enemies?
- Do I rejoice when my enemies change course for the better?
- Would I be willing to protect my enemies from another person’s attack?
- Would I be willing to trust my enemies?
- Do I hope for my enemies’ best?
- Will I continue to extend love to them even if they don’t love me back?
- Do I believe this posture toward them can’t fail?