Biblical Rationale For Loving Your Enemy
The words of Jesus in Luke 6:27, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” along with the words of Paul in Romans 12:14, “bless those who persecute you” understandably conjures up many thoughts and questions.
Loving our enemy—why is this something that God is asking of us? Isn’t it easier just to distance ourselves from them? Doesn’t our physical or emotional well-being lead us to not live in a way of substitutionary sacrifice toward our enemies? What if loving my enemy brings emotional or cognitive turmoil in my life? What if this type of love results in additional stress? What if this type of love leads others to take advance of me?
Loving our neighbor makes sense; however loving our enemies may seem a bit much. Much of our contemporary world tells us to in fact do the opposite. We have been conditioned to “label" our enemies, destroy the reputation of our enemies, remove ourselves from our enemies. We even justify harm toward our enemies and yet the clarion call to the church by Jesus is to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
A cursory look at the life of Jesus reveals that He not only taught us to live this way toward our enemies but He modeled it to us; Jesus showed us what true love looked like. Jesus, God in the flesh, spent much of His public ministry life under the threat of harm. Many were out to discredit Him, marginalize Him, abuse Him and even kill Him. Yet what is remarkably transformative is that He never returned the favor. Doing what is best for the other was always the way of Jesus. He came not to harm the lost but rather to seek and safe the lost (Luke 19:10).
A man who knew Jesus well and experienced the way of Jesus as an eye witness put it this way,
”For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving
you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin,
neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile
in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting
himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:21-23)
So as we consider a life of walking in the footsteps of Jesus, may we first be convinced that Jesus not only taught us to “love our enemies” but He also lived it out perfectly. Therefore, He is calling us into a life that He knows completely.