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Ask Dr. Stanley: How can I love my enemies?

It isn’t natural to want to bless those who hurt us, but God’s redemptive power is able to transform anything.

 

Q: What does it mean to “love my enemies?” How are we to love people who continually hurt us?

A: Sometimes the commands of the Bible seem impossible to obey. And the Lord’s charge to love our enemies is among the most difficult. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached, “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-44).

This statement shocked those who heard it, because it didn’t line up with conventional wisdom. And if we’re honest, the very thought of extending mercy and kindness to our enemies seems just as radical today as it did then.

Let’s be clear on something: The Lord doesn’t ask us to love everyone in the same way that we love our family and friends. And He doesn’t command us to love their actions. But we need to remember that our struggle is not “against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12 NLT).

Beneath all the layers of sin and hurtful actions is a person made in the image of God—a person in need of the same redemption graciously bestowed upon you and me. The challenge is to keep that perspective at all times, remembering with humility that we, too, are in need of a Savior.

It’s not natural for us to love wicked, vile people who cause all kinds of heartache and misery in the world. We can do so only through the Holy Spirit living within us. Rely on Him, and say, “Lord, it’s very difficult for me to love this person, but I’m going to trust You to love him (or her) through me, because in my own natural abilities and capacities, I’m unable to do it.”

Pray for the difficult individuals in your life, and you will begin to view them as God does. He sees these people for who they are meant to be, not merely as they presently are. Before long, your whole attitude will change, and that’s the work of almighty God.

 

For more questions and answers, tune in to In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley each week (check local listings)—or visit Ask Dr. Stanley.

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.


13 comments
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  • November 01, 2014 12:35 AM

    by

    I've had many enemies in my life. At first it was very difficult to see them in a positive light yet God has helped me supernaturally to love them. Love them, it is God 's command and remember, you will be blessed for doing the right thing and as Proverbs states- "the wicked will not go unpunished".
  • November 19, 2013 08:01 AM

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    my nurse manager is miserable and unhappy. she has been after me for a while now. though the Lord has command me to pray for grace for her it is still differcult for me to. I want to obery but it had to pray goog for someone who constantly look for stuff to crucified you. Please pray for God to give me the strength to do what I need to do.
  • October 12, 2013 07:12 PM

    by

    Thank you InTouch. This one is so enlightening. God bless your ministry.
  • March 24, 2013 03:01 PM

    by

    Thank you so much For helping me deal with anger and resentment that I have been holding onto For very long time. I'm having Lots of Anxiety with my Brother and sister Over my dads estate. I know that they hurt him financially while he was alive and are very greedy people And they have no consideration for others Don't care who they hurt with their words or actions. I pray God gives me strength to forgive them and just give it up to God. AMEN!
  • February 28, 2013 07:12 AM

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    God is so good, I got this message at the right time. I was wonderdering what to do in my situation and God sent me the message: Pray for the person that hurts me. Thank you heavenly father, please help to obey you faithfully in this. In Jesus name. amen.
  • February 27, 2013 11:10 AM

    by

    Thank you for posting this message on loving our enemies. I read it daily to help me with a co-worker whom frequently adds strive to my struggling Christian walk. To me, it seems that we live in a world that condones destructive gossip. My co-worker uses it to control things around her. She talks about everyone but they don't want to realize that she is talking about them as well. Some of the things she gossips about isn't true and can really hurt careers. All I can do is pray for this person and for the people around her to stop supporting this destructive behavior. Thank you InTouch for helping us see that Christ is in the middle of it all and knows all. I must respond with love and see that the sin is creating the distance from HIM, and so they are a slave to this kind of sin.
  • February 26, 2013 10:44 PM

    by

    Beautiful, I always get so much out of Dr, Stanleys wisdom and truth. I Can't, He can, Ithink i'll let him. Hurt people hurt people. I would also like to add that if you are working with someone in close quarters and they are rude and hateful it is best to keep an emotional distance from them, It is better for them and you. Keep it strictly work but be respectful but careful. I have worked with an angry person for many years and it has taken me a long time to be ok at work. I have prayed for her many times and ive learned to keep a safe distance. Ive learned through the years that she is very unhappy at home and has alot of pressures and her anger and pain are not about me but about her.
  • February 25, 2013 03:26 PM

    by

    I loved this.
  • February 25, 2013 11:35 AM

    by

    I should of practiced this years ago with my neighbors. They are gone now. But, it would have deminished a great deal of pain. Nothing was accomplished.
    AnnMarie
  • February 25, 2013 06:37 AM

    by

    Loving my enemies is one of the most hardest part in my Christian life. I'm still wondering why there are people who loves to hurt me though i know i'm not doing anything wrong to them... i'm really struggling... i hope that God will guide and teach my heart and forgive me for being an unforgiving child. its really hard to do it alone but i believe i can do this through Christ... Thank you Lord for using In Touch...
  • February 17, 2013 07:29 AM

    by

    I have a difficult individual in my life (a co-worker). Not one day goes by where this person has something critical to say or says or does something that is rude or condesending. I feel like I'm working with an office bully. Because of our roles, we should work "closely" and cooperatively with one another but we do not. I struggle with this at times. I enjoy my job but not this relationship. I've tried limiting my exposure to this individual. I've reached out to her and shared how I want the two of us to have a strong working relationship. I know some relationships aren't necessarily meant to be (and this could be one such relationship). Despite my struggle with "loving" this individual, as the prayer above says, I've got to trust Him to love my co worker through me because in my natural abilities, I'm struggling to do so. Thank you InTouch!
  • February 14, 2013 01:42 PM

    by

    I will start to pray for those very close to me that hurts me continually with words.
  • February 12, 2013 10:28 PM

    by

    So true it hurts-at first.

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