Loving Our Enemies

By |2024-02-12T01:33:06-05:00February 12th, 2024|

With the American Civil War spawning many bitter feelings, Abraham Lincoln saw fit to speak a kind word about the South. A shocked bystander asked how he could do so. He replied, “Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Reflecting on those words a century later, Martin Luther King, Jr., commented, “This is the power of redemptive love.”

In calling disciples of Christ to love their enemies, King looked to the teachings of Jesus. He noted that although believers might struggle to love those who persecute them, this love grows out of “a consistent and total surrender to God.” When we love in this way, King continued, we’ll know God and experience the beauty of His holiness.

King referenced Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in which He said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44–45). Jesus counseled against the conventional wisdom of the day of loving only one’s neighbors and hating one’s enemies. Instead, God the Father gives His children the strength to love those who oppose them.

It might feel impossible to love our enemies, but as we look to God for help, He’ll answer our prayers. He provides the courage to embrace this radical practice of His kingdom, for as Jesus said, “with God all things are possible” (19:26).