Show Kindness and Compassion to Your Enemies: But Why and How?
Show Kindness and Compassion to Your Enemies: But Why and How?
How do you feel when you picture your loved ones in your mind? Does thinking about your good friends and family bring a smile upon your face? Now, picture in your mind those you really don't like. How do you feel when you think about your "enemies"? Do you feel angry, sad, hurt, frustrated, annoyed, or confused?
While many of us don't have real enemies, we do have people who we dislike greatly for whatever reason. Regardless of why we don't like them, we ought to love them.
Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies." (Matthew 5:43, 44, WEB) Love our enemies? How in the world can we like our enemies, let alone love them? And why should we even love our enemies if they have deliberately hurt us? Let us answer "Why?" first.
Why should we love our enemies?
1) To fulfill the second greatest commandment: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31, WEB) Our "neighbor" is anyone else besides ourselves, so it includes our "enemies." Nearly all other ordinances of God are based on this commandment (e.g., don't steal, don't cheat, don't murder, don't commit adultery, etc.). For example, if we don't like others to gossip about us, then we shouldn't gossip about others. In other words, we should follow the golden rule: "As you would like people to do to you, do exactly so to them." (Luke 6:31, WEB)
2) To show that we are God's children: "... everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who doesn't love doesn't know God, for God is love. By this God's love was revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another." (I John 4:7-11) This passage tells us mainly two important things:
a) Yahweh God is the very representation of love. To be like our Heavenly Father, we must show love to one another. They say, "like mother, like daughter" or "like father, like son." Can we be like our Father when we do not love?
b) Yahweh let His one and only Son die for us in order to wash away our sins, so that our relationship with God can be made right (or justified) again. Jesus' sacrifice has given every person an equal opportunity to receive eternal life with God after a future resurrection of all the dead. But what kind of people did Jesus die for? Murderers, liars, cheaters, adulterers; yes, humans have been all these and more. So not a single person deserves God's grace (undeserved kindness)--no, not even one, for each one of us is a sinner (when was the last time you told a lie or cursed?). So "if God loved us in this way," can we not also love one another? And remember, God "makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)
3) To love meaningfully. Jesus asked, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive back as much." (Luke 6:32-34) Good questions!
How can we love our enemies?
Jesus answered this question when he said, "Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44) Let us look at each action more closely:
1) "Blessing" your enemies does not mean that you approve what they did. If, for example, your acquaintances robbed a bank, you shouldn't bless them for their crime. What you should do is to openly rebuke them for what they did. "Tough love" or disciplinary love is how you "bless" your enemies; it leads them on to the right path in life. Correction is precious. While we don't like being corrected, Christian rebuke leads to righteousness: "All chastening seems for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12:11)
2) "Doing good" to those who mistreat you means: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink." (Romans 12:20) We should never repay evil with evil, only with good: "Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21) In other words, we should never take revenge, for vengeance belongs to Yahweh: "Don't seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God's wrath. For it is written, 'Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.'" (Romans 12:19)
3) "Praying" for your enemies is when you sincerely pray to God, asking Him to help open their eyes "that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in [Christ]." (Acts 26:18)
To sum it up:
The Bible exhorts all Christians to "Put on therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do." (Colossians 3:12-13)
When we follow Biblical guidance to put on "a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance" we will view "our enemies" in a completely different light (Colossians 3:12). No more will we feel anger, frustration, or sadness when they come to mind; instead, they become the subjects of our compassionate prayers.
But can we "put on kindness" ourselves? As with love, joy, peace, and longsuffering, the answer is "no"--at least, not to the fullest extent possible. Rather, we can put on kindness only when we allow Yahweh God Almighty to develop kindness in us. Kindness is a quality of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which can be fully developed and maintained by God, and God alone (Galatians 5:22-23). The fruit is a bundle of Christ-like characteristics that include love, joy, peace, and meekness besides kindness.
So next time when your enemy comes to mind, remember what Jesus said: "Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44) and ask Yahweh and Jesus to develop kindness in you.
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