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“Love Your Enemies” - But I just can’t do it!
So, let’s talk about this in a realistic way according to Gods’ guidance. We are instructed throughout Gods word to love others. However, what about our enemies? This is confirmed specifically by Jesus in Matthew 5:44, “Love Your Enemies”.
I think about my natural tendencies and instinct to protect and this seems an impossible request. Well it is impossible, if you attempt to do it in your own strength! Only with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can one even think about this.
But there is something important that we must remember, prior to moving forward. That is, if you do not study the Word and search for truth as for hidden treasure, you will not know the power and words of wisdom that will guide you into knowledge. But, if you do invest the time to search for the truth, always in a prayer state of mind, you will find gems of truth that will open your eyes and fill your soul with joy unspeakable.
So, as I studied this command of our Lord and Savior, “Love Your Enemies”, I needed and wanted to understand how to do this, since it is not natural. And here is what I discovered through my prayerful study:
I do understand how my loving those who love me is no really big feat. As a matter of fact, it is rather self serving, because I am getting something in return. Most anybody can do that. It takes no sacrifice. But what about my enemies, or those who don’t like me for whatever reason? Well let’s see what the Word has to say and dig a little deeper through study.
LOVE: The term love in the bible is not isolated to the one term love as humanity has come to associate with. There are actually 3 different words used in the original language for love. God in his infinite wisdom knew what He was doing when He had His servants write His Word.
The word for “love,” in this command “agapan”, denotes the love of respect in contrast with “philein”, which describes the love of emotion (filial love), such as exists between members of the family.
Did you get that! Eyes beginning to now open as Gods Wisdom flows to provide understanding through diligent search and study. Moving on: Now get this, the command “love your enemies” would be impossible if it enjoined men (male/female) to “philein” their enemies, for they (You and I) could not feel toward their enemies the same emotional warmth of affection that they feel toward the immediate members of their families, Nor Is That Expected.
That is why the Greek language does not use the word “philein” but “agapan”. “Philein” is spontaneous, emotional, and is nowhere commanded in the New Testament. “Agapan, on the other hand, can be and is commanded, for it is under the control of the will.
What a revelation this made to me and should make for you! God asks us to do what is under our control, “the will”, until our relationship with Him grows to the point that our “fallen nature” becomes hidden in “His Nature”. That takes time, just as any relationship is built and grows over time.
So what does it mean to “Love (Agapan) Our Enemies”? Well, to “agapan” even our bitterest enemies is to treat them with respect and courtesy and to regard them as God regards them. Now although still difficult, this seems more like something that can be done, especially through prayer and subduing pride.
So, you or I may not be able to “philein” our enemies, but we can “agapan” our enemies! Get it? You do not have to feel guilty or think of yourself as a lost cause because you don’t feel emotional warmth as you would toward your family, friends or companion.
However, since God is the righteous judge and His Son sacrificed His All for “Everyone”, then we can at least respect our enemies as children of God just as we should consider ourselves His children.
This does remove the burden that is often laid on our human shoulders when our hearts don’t feel “philein” toward someone who truly hurt us or treat us badly. God says, I understand, and I command you to “agapan” them as I (God) continue to work with them and plead with them, just as I did and continue to do with you. For they are still my children, and they are also brought with the price of My Sons life. He also goes on to say He will even help you to “agapan” your enemies if you abide in Him.
So can you “Agapan” Your Enemies? Yes You Can! Praise the Lord. Can you “Philein” your enemies? Probably not, and it is not expected. God can “Philein” His and your enemies. That is why the more we become like Jesus, through diligent prayer and study, the more likely it will be able to move toward a “philein” type of love, because it is God through us that is providing the “philein” type love, and not us in and of ourselves.
And by the way, the third type of love is “Eran” and denotes passionate, sensual love that operates essentially on the physical plane. I am sure this is not what is referred to in the command to love your enemies.
I could go on to share other things my prayerful studies have provided wisdom from above on, such as “what’s this being perfect thing and how can one be perfect”, or “when my mother died where did she go, for real”, or “Is it enough to just say I have faith”, or “can I do anything I want and just ask forgiveness and I am good with God”, or “why
I have learned and continue to learn to “feed my spiritual soul” just as I do my physical body. Daily and carefully. Most people are Starving their spiritual souls and we wonder why we can’t find peace or joy. It is rather simple, we do not invest in what it takes for true peace and joy. I confess, I have been there and still forget at times to feed on the bread of life and drink of the water of life at the level I should. And you know what? Each time I forget to do so, I get weak and vulnerable, just as our bodies do when we do not feed them regularly and correctly.
My prayer is that your desire to know God more personally will grow stronger each day and that you will make time to spend with the Most Important Person whom you will ever know in your life. Open the Word, then Pray, and let the Holy Spirit guide you into Truth. May the peace and joy of our Lord and Savior be with you, Amen.