an ordinary person, loving one’s enemies would seem like a very tall order.
Hate breeds hate, why should someone in his or her right mind want to befriend
a sworn enemy? Why should I offer my neck for slaughter on a platter to my
archenemy? It sounds senseless! First reaction, yes; but emphatically no; it is
not! Our Lord Jesus instructs us to love our enemies; let’s find out how and
We know even from a layman’s viewpoint, that two wrongs do not make a right. Always find a middle ground, a compromise to every problem. Seek a lasting solution. Wars have never solved any problems and probably were not meant to. They only filled someone else’s pockets. When your enemy offends you, forgive! Pay no heed. It takes two to tango. A single bracelet on one hand makes no sound. Gone are the days of getting even with ‘tit for tat,’ ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ or ‘do me are do you’ [as we say in the mother tongue].
To everything there is a reason. Besides, when we stop to think it over, the reason for which we may consider this or that person an enemy is not worth it after all. Very often we fail to see the hand of the devil at work in these petty squabbles, stoking the fire of hate, trying very hard to put you at loggerheads with a friend, just because he is unhappy with the cordial relationship that you have knit and are enjoying.
The devil is never happy where there is peace and harmony. He will go all out to sow discord and misunderstanding. Then he stands in the corner and watches the fight or the quarrel. In the book of Proverbs, we read; “A gentle answer turns away wrath (anger) but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) Let’s assume you quarrelled with your neighbour whose child never stops bullying yours. You burst into a fury and start fussing and cursing. Suppose that after raising all that dust, two hours afterwards you find your child whom you were protecting, playing with the same child who provoked you to anger? How would you feel? The cause you fought for so violently; that storm you raised because you thought someone hated you -- upon reflection, do you think it was worth the trouble after all?
Our Lord Jesus admonishes; “But I tell you who hear me. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who maltreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) If you have not nurtured a relationship with Christ, you will struggle to love your enemies. But Christ in you, despite all the odds, you will triumph by not giving in to hate. Our Lord Jesus takes it further by saying; “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32)
For certain, it is not as easy as it seems, but when we knit a relationship with Christ, what was impossible becomes possible. Know this, Christ is the Lord of the impossible. “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
Enmity creates cracks in our relationships; the worst kind is between siblings. Joseph was sold by his brothers because he prophesied that he would one day lead them and they did not like it. That prophecy became true when famine drove Joseph’s family to Egypt in search of food. By this time, Joseph had risen to the rank of Governor. Notice their embarrassment when Joseph revealed himself to them. “Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still living? But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.” (Genesis 45:3) That was indeed a lesson for Joseph’s brothers. It left them dumbfounded and speechless.
Then Joseph said to them again; ‘Come close to me.’ When they had done so, he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.’ ” (Genesis 45:3-11) That should have been the most opportune moment for Joseph to have had his own back; but he did not.
“Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:19-20) Imagine how embarrassed your enemy will be.
Cultivate the love for your neighbours as you would for yourself. Satan is able to drive a wedge between husband and wife, mother and daughter, father and son, and between siblings to the extent that they will be at daggers drawn or at each other’s throat.
Do not fall for that, your relative should not be your enemy; rather make him or her an ally. If you let Satan sow seeds of discord between the two of you, the rift can get real deep. The Bible teaches: “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
The weapon with which to crush enmity is love. The apostle Paul in his letters to the Corinthian Christians underlined the virtues of love as an antidote to hate. He writes; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)
Love is the key. Learn to love your enemy as yourself, Christ Jesus says we should. If we put our minds to it, we can. It only needs an ounce of hate to start a full-scale war and bring untold suffering in its wake.