Recently, in my daily Bible reading, I came across a familiar passage of Scripture in Matthew 5. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Though I’ve read this passage many times before and even quoted it (and similar passages) in sermons and lessons, I saw it in a new light. I have always seen it as difficult, but for the first time I saw it as impossible. Faced with the difficulty of this observation, I was forced to consider his statement a little further.
As I considered His statement, I found some comfort. At the same time that Jesus is commanding us to do the impossible, He is also promising His divine enablement. That is the meaning of His statement – “that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” We know that doing anything – even loving our enemies – cannot make us God’s child. The sense of this statement is more of a description. God’s children love their enemies and we do it in the same way we do anything – through His power and not our own.
I think that the specific enablement comes through the second part of the command. If you want to love your enemy then you should pray for him. Prayer may feel awkward, but the more you do it the more God will increase His love in your heart toward the person who has mistreated you.
It can also help to purposefully show love toward that person in tangible ways. I’m not saying be fake, but I am saying to intentionally do something kind for your enemy. When you do, take the time to pray and ask God to help you develop love for that person.
The good news is that He will. As hard as it may seem at first, you can love your enemy. As impossible as it might feel, He will enable you to love. It isn’t you, it’s Him – and that’s what the entirety of the Christian life is supposed to be anyway. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).”