Matthew 5:43-48: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 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? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
One outstanding story of loving your enemy was told by Corrie Ten Boom. During WWII she and her sister Betsy had been sent to a German prison camp, because of the activity of helping Jews in Holland. Betsy died in the camp. Corrie lived, and after the war began to preach of God’s forgiveness for everyone. Shortly after the war God called Corrie to preach in Germany. Corrie told the people of the love, forgiveness and healing that God wanted to bring to Germany.
During one meeting a former Nazi prison officer approached Corrie. He had been one of the guards who had abused her and her sister in prison. He did not recognize her, but she recognized him. He had become a Christian, and now asked Corrie if she could forgive him. At first Corrie resisted, but then with the strength God gave her, she was able to hold her hand out to the man, and forgive him. After being obedient she felt a surge of the Holy spirit, and felt only great love for her former enemy.
What a powerful story of forgiveness, and the love only God can give!
Jesus calls us to a high standard. We are to love everyone, even our enemies. This is not something that we can do on our own. It is only something that we trust God will enable us to do. Why are we to love our enemies? Because God does, and we are his sons. Our heavenly Father is perfect in every way. His love is perfect, he gives grace to our enemies, causing the sun to shine on both the evil and good. We are to follow his example.
I’ve led a relatively sheltered life. I’ve never been through anything like the struggles of Corrie Ten Boom. But I have experienced consistently in my life that when I love others and treat them with respect, it changes my relationship with them for the better. And even if “my enemy” doesn’t change, God still changes me.