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Love Your Enemies

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 (Matthew 5:43-44).

Introduction

This Bible study is adapted from Victory Over Anger: Replacing Rage with God's Love.

This study and self-test is part of a series of free online studies on anger. Feel free to print it out, and then use it to evaluate yourself.

Reasons to love your enemies

God commands us to love.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34).

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28).

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14).

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it (1 Corinthians 4:12).

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble (1 John 2:9-10).

Our highest calling is to spread the Gospel and help others grow closer to Christ.

Study "dissensions" in Galatians 5:19-21 and Romans 13:13.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35).

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice (Philippians 1:18).

Jesus loved his enemies. Make him your example.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34).

Hints to help you love those who upset you

Realize that you may have misinterpreted the other person's words.

He or she may be distracted.
He or she may be busy.
He or she may be going through a personal crisis.
He or she may be sick or exhausted.
Realize that you may be right—the other person may have insulted you or may dislike you.

Even if this is true, you need to respond in a Christ-like manner. Ask what part you played in the problem.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye (Matthew 7:5).

See this as an opportunity to grow in Christ.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2).

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Forgive . . . even if the other person does not apologize.

Follow Jesus' example: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).

Follow Stephen's example: Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:60).

Pray.

When you feel irritated about someone:

  • Pray for the other person's needs.

  • Pray that God will help you forgive.

  • Pray that God will help you love him or her.

Evaluate your love

How well do you practice the following verses?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Score yourself from 0-10 on each of the following.

"0" means, "I need a lot of improvement."
"10" means, "I'm great at this."
____ I am patient.
____ I am kind.
____ I do not envy.
____ I do not boast.
____ I am not proud.
____ I am not rude.
____ I am not self-seeking.
____ I am not easily angered.
____ I keep no record of wrongs.
____ I do not delight in evil.
____ I rejoice with the truth.
____ I always protect.
____ I always trust.
____ I always hope.
____ I always persevere.
____ My love never fails.

Personal application

Write a prayer asking God to help you be more loving.

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