“But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you. Luke 6:27-31 (CEB)
How can I love my enemy? They have done me wrong and they have hurt me. How can I muster up love for them?
Luckily, God shows us the way.
To love one’s enemy is not an emotion – at first. However, for those of us “who are willing to hear,” the latest readers of Luke’s gospels, in order to love our enemies we must “do good” (verse 27). To love your enemy is primarily a verb, an action, a thing to do, whether or not you feel like it.
Second, to love one’s enemy is to speak to them. “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.” Blessing and praying are active verbs. When they are spoken, they are potent and effective. God created the world out of words, speaking it into existence. As God’s creation and the vessel of God’s own breath, how much are we allowed to speak words of righteousness and grace powerfully to those who come against us?
Third Luke tells us to again “do” love. “If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them.”
And somehow in all the doing, comes the feeling. The feeling of treating others as you would want to be treated. Out of love and grace, justice and righteousness.
To love our enemies is first and foremost an action.
Almighty God you command us to love our enemy. Thankfully, you show us how to do that. Help our actions precede our feelings and in the end perhaps bring about that love in thought and emotion, as well as deed. Amen.