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Devotionals : Love Our Enemies
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Love Our Enemies

By Michael Lane, Executive Director, Delve Christian Ministries
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If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20

"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" Matthew 5:46-47

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

There are many different types of love, each with many sides and aspects. One of the many flaws of the English language is that we have a single word to describe them all, so it's understandable that we may fail to distinguish between that which we feel for our husband or wife, and that which compels us to feed the poor. This linguistic limitation has the most impact when it tricks us into believing that love is a feeling, and worse, one over which we have no control.

We don't usually choose whom we love romantically, and we may fall in and out of love at the whim of our emotions. Since this is the kind of love with which we are the most familiar (and perhaps the most comfortable), we struggle when we hear Jesus speak of "loving our enemies." A contradiction forms in our mind as we think, "How can I love them? I don't feel a shred of sympathetic emotion for them at all!"

The love of which Jesus speaks is not a feeling in any sense of the word. It is a decision resulting in action. It is a choice you make that has nothing whatsoever to do with how you feel, and quite often, occurs in spite of a feeling to the contrary. This kind of love judges the needs of a person but never the person themselves, and responds according to the gravity of the need, never the character of the person.

Understand that you must absolutely restrain whatever you feel for a person and treat them with as much compassion and kindness as you would show your own mother or child. This is the kind of love that Christ demands - not a feeling, but rather a spirit of service, selflessness and humility. It is the ability to give to others with no regard to what they can do to repay you, what they feel for you or what you feel for them.

This kind of love is extremely hard. Unlike romantic love, which naturally drives us to do wonderful things for our spouse, loving our enemies goes against what our sinful nature desires us to do. It is far from effortless. Very often, when we stand at the brink of loving our enemies, our sinful nature cries out, "I don't want to do this!" and stands poised to halt our progress. We have to push through it. We have to resist the notion that something so difficult and so contrary to our natural desire could be called "love". It is, in fact the greatest kind of love. It is the kind of love that God demonstrated when He saved us while we were His enemies. (Romans 5:10)

There are opportunities for each of us to put this kind of love into practice every day, but it takes extraordinary courage and faith to even recognize these opportunities, let alone act on them. Imagine a coworker that you simply cannot get along with who is on the verge of making a huge mistake that will get her fired. Our sinful nature revels in this, and tells us that it serves her right. Let her get fired! Yet, if we are to love as God loves, we cannot let this situation unfold. We must intervene and prevent her from making that mistake despite all objections from our emotions. This is not at all what we will "feel" like doing, and that is why it requires such courage and faith. And what reward will we get? Perhaps she will thank us, or perhaps she will tell us to mind our own business. Yet, our love does not expect her appreciation. Our motives are simple and pure - love her as God loves her.

Remember that this kind of love is not about emotion, it is about action. Never stop looking for these opportunities to act in your life, and don't give in to the nagging voice which insists that love must always be easy and rewarding. Don't stop when you are on the brink of kindness because it doesn't feel right, for it often doesn't. This kind of love can be hard and uncomfortable, but it is the most important of all, for it is by this kind of love that others will know that Christ lives in you.

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I enjoy the reading.

Cheryl from Newport News, Va
4/24/2008 5:09:52 PM - anonymous

This is exactly what I was thinking about and going thru. This word was really prophetic for me....from India.
4/24/2008 11:55:37 PM - anonymous

It the word of GOD siplified.
4/25/2008 12:57:58 PM - anonymous

I have plenty of opportunity at the job I'm in.
4/26/2008 7:36:20 AM - anonymous

This was good reading for me because I am dealing with this with my boss and it is very hard. I am always kind to her, but she is constantly mean and nasty.
4/28/2008 8:38:42 AM - anonymous

Thank you. I am struggling. I have been put in a situation where I have to love my enemies. My husband and a friend who had an affair. I feel as though I have died. Prior to that, I'd felt abandoned by him, neglected and disregarded. piled with responsibilities beyond what I could support. I had not partnership from him as a guiding parent. Uneaqually yoked in discipline and moral standards as parents. The loneliness was killing me and I was spiraling into depression, negativity, anger, and aching pain. I am not proud of the avenue I took as a Christian. I should have had more faith, and acted on love then. I only dug a deeper grave for myself and my marriage. My marriage topped off with that affair and a near seperation.
I want to love, forgive. I have. I still hurt. Yet, everytime pain finds me. Christ steps in. His love surrounds me, reminds me of his forgiveness, comforts me, and enables me to humble myself and apply actively his word each minute of my life. Praise Jesus.
4/28/2008 8:25:22 PM - anonymous

Very insightful for me, and so true, I needed to be reminded of the kind of love that God expects from us, in this troubling and turbulant world that we live in, and evil of every side, I find myself having a difficult time showing love to what appears to be a callous humanity, we are so self-involved and uncaring of our fellow man it's a tragedy, and even as Christians we sometimes can't tell the diffrence in what is experienced from the world and between one another, let us all pray for one for another!
4/29/2008 12:12:35 AM - anonymous

I'm very good at loving those around me that I WANT to love. I have failed on so many occasions to love the people I don't want to love or the ones who make me very uncomfortable. I will definitely read this every day until it registers in my stubborn brain...
Whoever reads this...please pray for name is Tino.
4/29/2008 3:10:13 PM - anonymous

This was great reading. I am dealing with my ex-husband - who has shared custody of our kids - they are with me one week and him the next, back and forth - yet he still is seeking revenge on me for divorcing him (he does not believe in God, is an alcholic, and a very angry, negative person)......seeking revenge on the people who stood up with me in court - he wanted me dead and thretened to hurt me and I had a TPO against him and in court his lawyer requested a settlement to drop the charges, which I did based on his going to anger management and a personal counselor - and so it was court ordered.

However, he is not attending the counseling - I am going but he is not - and he is seeking revenge on all those that tesitfied against him.

How do I continue to forgive, continue to open myself and my kids up for his revenge, how do I know when I am just being a wimp and when I am trusting God?
5/1/2008 12:00:39 PM - anonymous

I understand this kind of Love but putting it into action is a very difficult. I find it very difficult to Love those who are my enemies because I would like some type of appreciation in return; This rarely happens and I get dissapointed. It seems the world we are living in today is cold and uncaring, somtimes just looking around at my environment (I live in the city) I feel a deep pain for humanity - people are suffering so much today, somtimes silently - they need help, prayer, and comfort; we as christians cannot expect anything in return (even though it is human nature to expect somthing) because often people do not know how to show their appreciation. I have a situation in my own life where I put aside my own needs to help someone through a horrible time in their life, once they were on the other side it seemed as if they never knew me. This hurt very much, I continued to pray daily and allow the holy spirit to guide me daily
I am still getting through this situation because I see the person on a daily basis. This person almost died - I was there by there side through thick and thin. I believe this is a experience that I must learn from - unconditional Love - Giving of yourself without expecting anything in return.
5/1/2008 5:40:21 PM - anonymous

In this reading, I am reminded of God's unconditional love because sometimes so much pain would bring you to hating everything around you that caused the hurt. I am experiencing it now. There are those people that despite the good things that you have done to them, they will repay you with evil. They would even plot against you, worst of all you would see them laughing as if they're winning. The pain, the anger, the hatred develops to bitterness which would make your heart so cold to forgive them much more love them. Yet, in this reading I've come to realize that me too, God forgave and loved. This is a very hard command but God's grace will see us through to follow His will!
5/2/2008 11:03:30 PM - anonymous

Thank you. I am in a relationship with a man and his family members and I don't like each other. More so his sister, than anyone else. Reading this devotional really spoke volumes to me and I know I have alot of work ahead of me, for it is difficult to love someone who is always passing judgement and speaking ill of you.
5/3/2008 4:48:03 PM - anonymous

That was really good and we should love our enemies even though they don't like you.
5/5/2008 9:20:26 PM - anonymous

Thank you so much for the word today. I have really enjoyed reading it, much as other I have struggled down through the years to Love and to let go and let God, As I have gotten a closer relationship with my savior my prayer daily is for him to teach me how to Love as he has Loved. And the emenies that I once was not speaking to, now I am speaking and giving God the Glory and the praise for it I knew that I could not do these things myself but I put it in God hand and he worked it out. Even my x-husband I had so much anger builded in me, now we can talk with each other about the childrens. Now I'm praying that my mother and I can have the same relationship someday, she has no relationship with me or her grandchildren for not forgiving her pass failure for not raising me. But I have forgiven her. But still I say God you work it out I can't fix it, but you can.
5/7/2008 11:06:58 AM - anonymous

When I started reading this the first thing that came into mind is the hate I have for Muslim terroists and the whole Isalmic religion. I feel very gulity about this hate and find it very difficult to pary for them. To top it all my eldest son is stationed in Iraq and if he dies there...I feel helpless.

In addition, I want to love them emotionaly as well and I just can't. How can I do for them? I don't want to kill them, not all the time anyway, but I fully believe that in their collective hearts, that's what they want to do to me as a struggling Christain in this area. How can I put in practice with people who would rather kill me than listen or talk to me? How can I put into practice love with a people who prefer to show ungratefulness than gratitude? How can I love a people who demands aid from my country and receives it, but is still bent on destroying the foundation that allows my country to aid them?

I need express as my actions are tied to my emotions.

5/7/2008 11:37:36 AM - anonymous

I wrote the previous comment about hating Muslims and the Isalamic religion and people as a whole.

I prayed about it and came to the realization that not loving these people is an act of disobedience on my part and I am in sin. Who cares about my feelings? It is as James said, I have no claim on God whom I have never seen, if I cannot love my brother or fellow man whom I have seen, no matter is background. (My interpretation)

Thanks for helping me pass that, now I pray that my actions will show that.
5/7/2008 11:50:13 AM - anonymous

Thank you for this message

I am struggling to forgive and love my enemies especially a nephew in particularly, twice he has left his wife and children to following his own desires by having relationships with other male genders. His home again with his family. but to date i have not spoken to any of them in time as i continue to read Gods word that he would instill that kind of love that he has for all.
5/9/2008 1:27:07 PM - anonymous

i like it
5/14/2008 8:06:18 PM - anonymous

I thank God for this devotional. Yes, I also struggle in this area of loving my enemy..It is very difficult to do so especially that the person you are going to love is the reason of your miseries in life. She is the reason why my marriage is on the rock etc. Reading this topic reminded me to obey and helps me to understand the kind of love that i will show to my enemy & follow the commands of our Lord & Savior who owns me & since he owns me I dont have the right to disobey Him after all He also forgive me of my sins.I pray now that God will give me the grace to change my heart & i will have love & compassion to my enemy.Thank you Lord.

5/21/2008 1:00:40 AM - anonymous

This has to be one of the most trying expectations for us Christians. There are certain people I can "love" and even "forgive" despite their relentless efforts to make me miserable. On the other hand there are those who've I declared beyond my compassion. They just went too far. I have found myself haggling with God about who I will and won't forgive. Needless to say it's a loosing argument since it exposes how far I am from being like Jesus. However, gratefully I'm becoming clear that our "enemies" are often mirrors God uses to reveal things in our character that are not like Him. I like the author's point that "loving" is not an emotion, but a decission.
5/31/2008 7:56:48 PM - anonymous

Thank you so much for this. Our son (age 7) has been bullied by a boy all year at school. I've grown so angry with this boy, even though he's only a child! In my anger I've said things in front of our 2 children that I shouldn't and though at first I encouraged our son to "turn the other cheek" now I've told him not to take it any more, to stand up to him, to hit him the next time he ever hits him! How wrong is that? We can get so far from where God wants us to be. I have not been a good example to the kids lately in this area. I almost feel hatred toward this kid. Only God can soften our hearts. He knows our hearts well anyway.I really needed to read this tonight. I know it is sick pride that makes me feel that I'm so much better than this boy and his parents. Yes they live wrong, and they dislikethe police, (my hubby is a police man) but Jesus died for them too! So who am I to have this hate in my heart towards them?
6/4/2008 10:06:37 PM - anonymous

Thank you to everyone. I see myself more clearly now. I need to repent, once again. Thank God for His saving grace and the blood of Jesus which cleanses us for all unrighteousness. Jesus is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins. Praise God!
6/12/2008 1:12:53 PM - anonymous

I really needed this today. I was just sitting here thinking what a devil my manager was. This message really brought me back to my senses and reminded me that I must see him through Christ's eyes, and love him the way Christ loves him. Thank you!! Renee
6/13/2008 6:21:45 PM - anonymous

god is very good to us and we do things to hurt our onw father and he wil always forgive us for what we have done to make him angry
6/14/2008 7:44:32 AM - anonymous

I like to contuine to read your devotionals , at times I think, this could be a blessing blocker for me to love my enemies. lynne, mableton,ga
7/3/2008 1:41:52 PM - anonymous

This devotional was very inspiring to me. I have spent years being angry over how I was treated by someone who was supposed to love me. I now accept the fact that I have the love of God at all times and no matter what is done to me I must still show love and move on.
7/7/2008 10:28:32 AM - anonymous

This devotional helped me a lot, so did other people's comments. I am praying that God helps me and teaches me to love people. We often think love is just 'a good feeling' towards people, but it's so much more than that. I didn't even know that I didn't love people. Now I understand why it was difficult to get along with people, particularly non-Christians.-- Robin
7/8/2008 12:05:27 AM - anonymous

This is a great devotional!
For a few years I have witnessed about Christ in a web site chat room.
Their were many who were anti-Christian, and proud of it.
I made a mistake, and took things personal. I silently get very hurt and cry, and pray. (My Family would keep telling me to forget about these people. But I could not!) It finally hit me one day, that it had nothing to do with me. Jesus died on the cross for them. And they were mocking Him! Suddenly I found myself loving these people, especially the ones that stood out as the meanest.
If only they knew that I wasn't there to condemn them, but to show them the love of the Savior. But I know that their eyes are blinded to the truth of the Gospel, until God says so. I still pray for them and keep planting seeds of God's Word.
7/17/2008 11:54:44 PM - anonymous

I needed to read this devotional to remind me of what Jesus expects. I have a roommate who has caused me nothing but stress since she moved in a few months ago. She hasnt been easy to get along with at all which is something that I totally didnt expect and am very dissappointed about because I was truly looking forward to rooming with her. I have nothing but regret about letting her come to live with me. She's going through alot of turmoil in her own personal life and I find it very hard to be compassionate towards her because of the way she's been making me feel. I just needed to be reminded of what God expects and I have to remember that the situation will work itself out if I leave it in God's hands.
8/27/2008 4:26:23 PM - anonymous

This reading is a blessing. I am struggling with a person in my community that i stood up for last year. She was being punished from our church for a misunderstanding. It forced me and my family to leave our church of 9 years. That has been exactlly a year ago. She approached me with a personal attack of jealousy and hate--for no real reason. I have forgiven her! I am not wanting to love her! I have been searching for ways to love her, and found this reading. I do understand NOW that some forms of love are not a feeling-- they are a "way of being". This helped me more than ever. I am still really struggling, but know that through Jesus and his love for me, I can overcome this struggle with someone who is in my life for years to come.
9/2/2008 12:58:44 PM - anonymous

We really appreciate to what you are offering us.

10/2/2008 7:30:30 AM - anonymous

Awesome reading!! God wants you to love your enemies as he loves them. Pray for them, Love them, & Bless them...and GOD will take care of you!!!
12/16/2008 11:06:29 AM - anonymous

This reading was a blessing and speaks directly to me and i just want to thank the writer for availing themselves to be used by God.

New Jersey
2/11/2009 12:18:47 PM - anonymous

I loved reading these
2/23/2009 3:18:10 PM - anonymous

Recently I read " Love is an action not a feeling " on a church's outdoor billboard then I came across this site.
First let me give some background, I work with very competitive, envious, hateful bad stabbing co-workers that after enduring their hostilities all day I go straight home for a good cry. I've pleaded with God to get me out of this place but 7 interviews and 2 years later I'm still here!
So what will I do now?Quit my job and live in the streets? OR love my enemies. I must love those who hate me but it WILL NOT be easy at all!!They'd rather see me dead even though they smile in my face. I'm keeping a journal of all their hateful activities towards me because if they physically attack me I will have a record. I'm at the point were I am researching the organizations that I can or should report this harrassment.
I am a christain. I've giving my life to the lord when my mother and her husband passed away 7 years ago.
At times I get so angry with God for allowing this to continue ( I grieve the holy spirit). Why is he allowing this to happen to me. But I then read what Joel Osteen said "It's not happining to you rather it's happening FOR you"
Therefore this is happening FOR me. I'm suppose to learn something from all of this and it's quite possible it's to LOVE especially when the body wants to retaliate.
So back to love as an action. This is my test I have yet to pass in order to move forward to a new level in my relationship with Christ.
I want, I NEED, to Love to the point it's part of my nature my character, that is "The charactor of Christ". He's waiting for me yet I scream and cry and think of ways to get even with my co-workers because I haven't learned yet to Love.
I'm thankful I came across this website "Thank you all!" for your insights your personal stories your Love for stangers who will read your postings.
Now I must learn the lesson of Love that God has been trying to teach me.
2/23/2009 8:56:23 PM - anonymous

Praise the Lord! This is a very timely topic. As the word of God so clearly states, what benefit is it to love those who are easy to love.... It's really a very hard thing to do, to love someone who is treating you terribly, but Jesus is our example. He went through and was delivered. I love the Lord, but someones my trials are so difficult, but I've learned and am still learning that if I hang in there and continue to do good and to trust God, my trial/test would not have been in vain. Christians must bare the cross as did our Lord and Savior. It will build our character and faith. God is good during the bad times and the good times. The world is sometimes very crule and ugly. This is why those who love Lord are so necessary. We should be the voice of compassion, love and understanding. We must exemplfy God. The world doesn't know Jesus like we do. But we must hold on, trusting that God is aware of our trials. All trials are not unto death. I once heard a pastor say, "What doesn't kill you, will build you." It's the truth. God knows all about our situation. He hasn't forgotten about us when we're going through. I'm not at the place where I can smile through all of my situations, but I am at the place where I can talk to God about every single one of them. I will wait on His answer. I've learned too that God has strategically placed His people where they are most needed. We are in a fight everyday of our lives; a fight between good and evil. Good will win! Let us be strong in the Lord and the power of His Might. This is the word of God. Let us know that Man can't take away from us what God has deemed for us and that Man cannot give us what God does not want us to have. Again, the Lord knows all about it. Surround yourself with those who are strong in the Lord and continue to pray for strength to endure.

Peace and Blessings, in Jesus name!
4/17/2009 12:04:03 PM - anonymous

4/19/2009 11:46:30 AM - anonymous

OMG. I love this. At this point in my life that was exactly what I needed. The way they broke down the difference between the love and emotion part. Floored me. I took it all in. Thanks. I feel like this will help me to learn to put this thing into action
5/5/2009 7:52:24 PM - anonymous

The devotional is well taken. A long time ago i decided to love my enemies and bless them as well. I can only tell that it has changed my life. Alot of my friends used to be my enemies. For example a gentleman who had once did great harm to me and my business owed me money . When i found out that he had no money for groceies i gave him some money. He asked me with tears in his eyes why i was doing this since he owed my money. I said that God wanted him to have it and that my money belongs to God. Because of my obediance he is now a christian and my friend. The spoils are for those who are willing to do things Gods way. I have many stories to tell like this because i when someone hurts me i have learned how respond with love for them, becaue they are Gods children
5/25/2009 8:51:40 AM - anonymous

wow the truth shall set you free. what a blessing this has been to read. I will meditate upon his word and I know that I will be healed praise you Jesus for your love and mercy, kindness and grace. and above all your love
6/9/2009 8:51:56 AM - anonymous

Praise The Lord. This is exactly what I need to hear today. I have hated my granddaughter's girl friend for several years for the life she was leading. I felt she was responsible for my granddaughter's bad choices. I know know that is not true. Then yesterday she called and said she was going to bring my 2 great grandchildren by to see me (5 1/2 and 4). I doubt that she asked my granddaughter for permission so it will probably not happen. I know she has been keeping the little ones over night and on weekends for some time now but my granddaughter lies and tells me they are with their other grandparents. If this person is going to be a part of my great grandchildren's lives, I need to change and thus love my enemy. I just pray that the children are in no danger, physically or emotionally. I have asked God to watch over them. I know it's time for the Serenity Prayer.
4/29/2010 5:33:54 AM - leenhoutsmj, Member of Delve into Jesus since 4/29/2010

Thanks so good to hear i needed it tonight.
7/10/2010 9:05:03 PM - restinginhim, Member of Delve into Jesus since 7/10/2010

God is our defender when we do things his way. This is the testimony I have in a nutshell short version. I had an enemy that I had done nothing against try to tell me I could not use a visitors pass to a country club where she happened to work part time. She was rude and ugly when she told me. She went out of her way to call me on the phone and tell me I was not welcome.

I was totally shocked that she was so unkind to me as I was new to the neighborhood. I prayed about it alone and with my bible study. I never mentioned it to anyone else outside my family.

Out of the clear blue a distant friend who knew nothing the situation asked me to visit the same club with her to have lunch and go to the pilates class.

My enemy happened to be there that day and she saw me with my friend eating the delicious expensive food in the exclusive dining room with a friend who also paid for my lunch.

My enemy saw me being accepted and included where she tried to exclude me. I cried to God and he answered.

As I ate the delicious expensive food in the exclusive dining room I thought of the 23rd Psalm which says he gives us delicious food in the presence of our enemies. THe 23rd psalm came true for me that day and I will always be grateful to god for his tender mercies to me.

God and his kindness to me helped me to love my enemies because I know he has my back what a comfort.

I pray God will strengthen you with a similar experience so you can be strong.
7/10/2010 9:18:09 PM - restinginhim, Member of Delve into Jesus since 7/10/2010

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