Christians are familiar with the greatest commandment in Mark 12:30-31:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (ESV)
It is easy to love your neighbor, especially if they are considerate ones. Ones that are enjoyable to be around. Those that we see eye to eye on multiple things in life.
But, what about those that aren’t so kind back? What if your neighbor (which can represent a family member, coworker, acquaintance, customer service rep, etc.) makes it hard for you to love them? Maybe they aren’t located on the love spectrum in your eyes – they are on the polar opposite: hate.
You know, everyone (that is human) has said this line before – “I hate __________.” I hate those individuals that cut in front of me in stand still traffic. I hate those individuals that abuse animals. I hate those that defame my name for their advantage. I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about when I wrote these simple “I hate” lines. Sound familiar?
So, what did Jesus do with those that would be considered our enemies? He loved them still! Sounds outlandish, but our savior loved those that we despise just as much as He loves us. Take a moment and consider the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. Jesus befriended a despised chief tax collector! Out of all the individuals that were present to greet Jesus, he requested to stay at Zacchaeus’ living quarters the night before being sentenced to death. What an honor!
Why did Jesus choose to stay at Zacchaeus’ house instead of one of his followers? He wanted to show his people who being a Christ follower also means to love your enemy. He came to seek those that were lost and save them by making them believers. As Christians, we should seek those that are lost and be kind to them. Show them who a follower of Christ is, by being like Jesus.
Acknowledge who you may be “hating” at this moment and ask yourself, how can I show brotherly/sisterly love towards this individual that will exemplify Christ within me. Love thy enemy, by recognizing they are your neighbor as well.
If you are still finding difficulty in loving your enemy, here are five Bible verses to assist:
Luke 6:27 – “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
Exodus 23:5 – If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.
Acts 7: 60 – And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.