One of the hardest teachings of Jesus is "Love your enemies." He set an example by laying down his life for us, who were His enemies.
Who are our enemies?
Our enemies are not some country or people who live far away from us. We find our enemies in our homes, work places and churches. People who hurt us most are those who live close to us. In this fallen world, people whom we thought we could trust most, sometimes let us down. Those we love, hurt us deeply and at that point, or at least for that moment, they have become our enemies. If we are honest enough to admit it, we have become their enemies as well. These people can be your spouse, children, brothers, sisters or the church family.
Christians often hurt each other deeply and repeatedly; then love is lost and they become enemies in their heart.
It is easy to ignore them and go on having the hurt within us. But that will go against Jesus' commission to love and bless them.
How do we love our enemies?
I want to pass on some good advice I heard on the Back to the Bible broadcast, which blessed me:
1. Greet them graciously without avoiding them.
2. Disarm them by doing good to them.
3. Refuse to speak evil of them, as words have power. [Prov.18:21]
4. Stop talking of what they have done and start forgiving them.
5. Thank God for them. Your enemy is sent to you by God's design and with his approval, to bring something good out of it.
6. Pray for them. They need your prayers more than anyone else. If you hate them tell that also to God.
7. Ask God to bless them: Whatever blessings you are asking for yourself, ask for your enemies too.
When we pray like that the pressure goes off. We have done exactly what Jesus has asked us to do. Thus, if we release our enemies, we will be set free from our anger and bitterness. We will be able to love our enemies.