Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Love Your Enemies

“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.” Matthew 5:44-46 (NLT)

I knew it was wrong, but I could not help being angry with the mother of one of my children’s friends. My child’s teacher called to alert me about some of the things the mother was doing to try and sabotage my daughter. I wanted to take matters into my own hand and give her a piece of my mind. Instead, I allowed a seed of bitterness to settle in my heart. I decided she was my enemy. I chose to ignore her, but the seed was planted. 

I rationalized it would be much worse to say something directly to her or gossip about her. Ignoring her would send a message that I don’t make time for people who hurt my children. 

That was until the Lord spoke to me. At first, He nudged me subtly. For example, no matter where I drove my car, I saw her in her car. Every time I went to the grocery store, there she was. Even when I tried to dodge her by going down a different aisle with my grocery cart, I would run into her. 

When I didn’t take the subtle hints, He spoke directly to my heart! Right after abruptly avoiding her at a school event, I heard the Lord speak clearly. He reminded me of His words in Matthew.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 to love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you (or your children) and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Ouch. That hurt. The funny thing is even when the Holy Spirit reminded me of Jesus’ words, I tried to negotiate with Him. 

“But, Holy Spirit, look how many other people I love! Can’t I have one person I don’t like?”

The answer was clear, “love your enemies.”

We all have people in our lives who irritate or annoy us. There are those who intentionally or unintentionally hurt us. The grievances may be legitimate in many cases, and we may believe we have a right to be upset or hurt or angry. Other times, if we are honest, we overreact or are hypersensitive. 

In my case, I believed the grievance was real. My “enemy” was attempting to hurt my child. I had a “right” to be angry and stay away from her. But did I? 

James 2:10 tells us,

“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws.” (NLT)

We are told to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, but then we are also told to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is not an exception to love only the ones who are nice to us or deserve our love. Instead, we are told to:

“Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up.” Hebrews 12:3 (NLT)

I knew what I had to do. I picked up my phone and called my “enemy” and invited her to coffee. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me put my feelings aside and to give me a love for her and to forgive her. Allowing the Holy Spirit into my situation changed everything. 

Over coffee, we laughed. We shared. We cleared the air. I made the effort out of obedience, but in the end, I was blessed. 

Copyright © 2017 Anne Ferrell Tata. Used by permission.

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