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What does it mean to love our enemies in practical terms?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by RedRose1, Nov 29, 2021.

  1. RedRose1

    RedRose1 New Member

    Other Religion
    Hello everyone I hope all of you are well and thriving in the light of God.

    As a relatively new member of the faith I have a couple of questions I am curiously trying to find a fulfilling solution to.
    In my previous religion Islam we were taught that one must forgive and be kind to those who weong them it even goes as far as not only being good to those you have animosity with but also practicing good deeds towards them. Now in Christianity it goes up a notch and it is even more required to not just forgive since you can forgive someone and still hold to negative feelings towards them but you must also LOVE them. And this is where my problem lies. In the past as a muslim it was easy for me to forgive those who wrong me but as a christian God commands me to love my enemies as much as I love my self or my own. I sincerely want to be as close to abiding by Christs commandments but honestly it is very difficult for me to love those who wronged me in a very personal level. I wonder if my faith is at stake here because God also primarily cares about your heart and its well being. How can I love those who are considered to me to be my enemies without being regarded as passive or being taken advantage of. What does it mean to love your enemies and does extend to being kind to them or should we just avoid these people who may very well be believers or people who are good but you and them just don't get along.

    I'm so excited for the discussion I hope it dwells into a deeper level.

    So the main question is How do you apply the commandments pertaining to loving your enemies in an emotional and mental manner. For example should I be empathetic and put myself into their shoes and make justifications and excuses for them like if I was in their place I'd be no different or perhaps I should think of them as inherently bad people and that they deserve to be shown what they deserve or maybe even putting my own faith in question and worrying about the people which perceive me as an enemy and I need their forgiveness.

    God bless :)
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  2. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

    It simply means to not seek revenge but also if need be to help our enemies in times of need. Otherwise, as we were not to rebel against those who oppress us, the governments of man, we simply live and let live, being in the world but no longer of it. Think of the Red cross that helped both sides in wars. Were they seen as enemies by either side or as a third option? Jesus represented a counter-culture to the culture of man. A third option to the divisive ways of man that leads to disputes. We can't resolve differences by acting in the same way as out enemy. (and yes life and surroundings has made each of us who we are, so in the case of 'enemies' there but for the grace of God, go we.)
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
  3. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

    United States

    Love does take many forms though. It doesn't require you love them more than you do someone close to you for instance, but also it doesn't require you love them in precisely the same way you would someone else either.

    We love each person in unique ways, but there is a commonality.

    To me personally for example, when I love someone I value them, and would do actions as needed to help them out, from my felt concern about them, so, that's then from love. But each person is individually unique, and loves in a unique way to some extent. The way different people love has overlap/similarity with others, but also a unique individual quality.

    This is an important question I've often seen and answered.

    When I love someone, it doesn't mean I would allow them to do a wrong that I can prevent easily, such as by removing the temptation if I can foresee it.

    For example: suppose someone uses information about you and then makes derogatory comments about you using that information. That's slander. It's a very serious wrong, and God will hold them to account for that. God will see Justice done for their wrong, and you and I don't need to try to get justice on our own.

    But, knowing that person uses information in such a wrong way, I can then not offer them more information, so that they would merely take the new information and then misuse it also, just like before. I can love them and withhold new information they are likely to misuse.

    Another example: suppose someone steals something from you. You can love them and not leave anything out available for them to steal next.

    You are actually helping them in this way: you are removing a temptation that they might stumble on.

    You should be as empathetic as you can be, and definitely it helps to imagine yourself in their shoes!

    But it's not good to make excuses for them in the sense of fully justifying their wrong actions as if the actions were not wrong.

    Instead, at most one can point out that they are themselves someone in need of help and not just condemnation (and while on this topic, Christ further instructs us to never condemn anyone -- we don't have that authority to judge to that level. At most we can only point out a wrong action, but are not to then condemn a person.).

    The last part you ask above in this is subtle -- it is often true that more than 1 person is in the wrong, and we can be one of those people ourselves. We rely on Christ over time to help us continue to learn and change for the better. Now, 'faith' is belief in God, trust in God, and that's not to be put in doubt because someone disagrees with you or has a conflict with you, but we can definitely all obey Christ who instructed us in Matthew 7:1-5 to not be quick to judge others actions even, but instead to routinely (always) check on our own actions/attitudes first. That's always a good practice.

    That someone else is stumbling doesn't mean that we have to also stumble, if we can just trust in Him and look to find our own wrongs, as He instructed us.

    Matthew 7 NIV
  4. OldWiseGuy

    OldWiseGuy Wake me when it's soup. Supporter

    United States
    You don't have to like (phileo: heart love) your enemies in order to love (agape: head love) them.

    Some family members and friends are barely likeable but we still love them.
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  5. Unqualified

    Unqualified Well-Known Member Supporter

    United States
    Give them a cold glass of water- pray good things for them like faith. You could visit in prison or hospital if they are still in your life.
  6. Andrewn

    Andrewn Well-Known Member CF Ambassadors Supporter

    Welcome to the CF and congratulations for receiving Christ. I wish you continue to progress in the loving relationship with God and others that you're seeking.

    As far as loving your enemy, I believe that it means a commitment to the well-being of others. The Apostle Paul described love as follows:

    1Co 13:4 Love is patient,
    love is kind,
    it does not envy,
    it does not brag,
    it is not puffed up,
    5 it does not behave inappropriately,
    it does not seek its own way,
    it is not provoked,
    it keeps no account of wrong,
    6 it does not rejoice over injustice
    but rejoices in the truth;
    7 it bears all things,
    it believes all things,
    it hopes all things,
    it endures all things.

    And about God's love, the Bible gives these examples:

    Mat 5:45 He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

    Joh 3:16 For God loved the world in this way:He gave his one and only unique Son,

    Rom 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time,Christ died for the ungodly.

    Please note that all the above passages describe specific actions, not feelings. We are not required to like our enemies or to "fall in love" with them.

    We do not seek to justify evil actions. But we do not respond to evil with vengeance, except in self defense and defending others.

    I don't think we should celebrate anyone's misfortunate.

    I'm not sure I understand what you mean, here.

    Welcome again. Which Christian denomination did you join. I hope you enjoy the fellowship and discussions, here.
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  7. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

    United States
    Luke 23:34

    Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

    Matthew 5:44

    Contemporary English Version
    But I tell you to love (forgive) your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you.

    Forgive them and pray for them.
  8. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

    Yes, agape being the key word which cannot be defined in fleshy ways.
  9. Petros2015

    Petros2015 Well-Known Member

    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    For me, the commandment pairs well with 'with the judgement you use you shall be judged'
    To pray for my enemies, I think then is not to pray for someone's success in evil, but rather that be shown the error of their ways in the same manner that I would like to be shown the error of mine. If I am praying something for someone that I would not welcome receiving myself, I am probably doing it wrong. It is also often a good moment for humility and self reflection - say that someone's dishonesty has angered me... where have I been dishonest?

    "well, no not like THAT!"
    "well, no not like that, but like this - isn't it really the same? The color and shape and venue of it may be different, but it is made of the same Stuff, the same sin"

    More than once, Christ warned of hypocrisy. And often, anger or enemies are simply "people who are doing what we would have done, but doing it better". It can be the familiarity with the sin that brings the contempt. So if I am praying something for someone that I don't think I need myself, I am also probably doing it wrong.

    I think the words "We" and "Us" can be very powerful.

    "May we each receive a piece of truth that we need from you Father that will bring your peace into our lives"

    Suddenly I am not praying "for" my enemies, but with them. And that's not a bad place to be.
  10. Eternal Seeker

    Eternal Seeker New Member

    United States
    Christian Seeker
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  11. Eternal Seeker

    Eternal Seeker New Member

    United States
    Christian Seeker
    in my humble opinion it means several things. . It means seeing people's underlying intent. In fact you'll often find people's underlying intent is rooted in ignorance. Remember when Jesus was on the cross after bring beaten senseless. He said "father forgive them because they know not what they do." Parapbased in a nutshell that's how you are to view your enemies especially those that come from bad circumstances those that are young and ignorant, those that have mental disorders. Etc etc. that doesn't mean that you should not call the police if someone robs you or beats you up, just don't hold very strong emotional grudges. It should be noted that the more advanced you become spiritually the more forgiveness and lack of emotional grudges you should hold so there is no one size fits all I don't think.
    It means don't over think it. I think it means just give people the benefit of a doubt. I think it means innocent so proven guilty. I think Jesus was speaking to a lot of people that held grudges over the smallest things or probably more commonly held grudges for things things never done. I think it means just to be careful how you use your emotional labour. Mind you there are several ways to love your enemies. One would be to hope for the best of them. Hoping they finally figure life out and grow up eventually. it could also mean just Joking around and lightning the mood in tense situations. Anyway I think you get the idea.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
  12. Anthony2019

    Anthony2019 Pax et bonum! CF Ambassadors Supporter

    United Kingdom
    Hi Redrose1 and welcome! Hope you are enjoying CF - it's good to have you with us!
  13. Joined2krist

    Joined2krist Well-Known Member CF Ambassadors Supporter

    Hello Redrose1, welcome to CF! :)
  14. Mayflower1

    Mayflower1 Hello my Name is "Child of the One True King" Angels Team Supporter

    United States
    Welcome to CF, Red Rose! Thankful you are here!!!!
  15. Confused-by-christianity

    Confused-by-christianity Well-Known Member

    United Kingdom
    Consider everyone your own family - consider us all children of God.

    Understand your brothers and sisters. You might not agree, but, put yourself in their shoes and understand them and their perspective.
    This makes peoples foibles easier to tolerate. (Especially if you're humble enough to know you yourself are likely as bad as the next person).
    Tolerance and understanding leads to genuine feelings of affection.
    This culminates in a true love for others.

    That is how I would answer the question - my opinion of course.

    I also think there is a difference between a cold and mechanical love and a genuine affection for members of your own family (all humanity). I think the genuine affection version is the higher one and that pleases God the most - so I strive to achieve that for others.
  16. sunshineforJesus

    sunshineforJesus is so in love with God CF Ambassadors Supporter

    United States
    Hi and welcome here.
  17. Deade

    Deade Called of God Angels Team Supporter

    United States
  18. IWalkAlone

    IWalkAlone Well-Known Member

    United States
    Love is love.