love our enemies?

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
Hey guys,

I have been thinking about this question for such a long time. I understand that God told us that we have to love our enemies becasue if we only love our nieghbors then what cross is on our part? NOTHING.

BUt is it really realistic to do so? 

Does anyone really love their enemies and is that the same as not hating them?



  • Many things that Christ told us to do seem impossible. And for many they might be. I think Christ was speaking to the Judeans who generally thought of anyone who wasn't part of the House of Israel as their enemy. Jesus wanted to change their mentality. For us today, I don't think we have any enemies, or at least we shouldn't. It is a hard saying indeed. But what boggles me about this saying is that Satan is our enemy, but certainly we do not love him!!

    I think the more difficult saying is to love your neighbor as yourself. How do you reach that level? If I loved my neighbor as myself I would give him half of my salary, help him pay for college, wash his car, etc. Is that realistic? Is that possible? I don't think so.

    But as St. Paul writes - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"
  • so its impossible without God's help but possible with it?
  • Precisely!  :)
  • lol okk thanks, ill try my best to
  • As will I  ;D

    You can also think about it like this. God tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and our enemies - he wants us to love our brothers and sisters in the same way we love Him. With all we have. For if we cannot love the people we see with our eyes, how can we love the unseen God?
  • i think it is very greate pleasure to love enemies cos they help us to make nervous sistym more steady they help to change us in better way,to moove our brains.
  • We must pray for our enemies and then we discover that they are not our enemies, even if they do not become friends.

    We should not think of love as an emotion but as an action. And we may not like a person but we can still love them. Love is what we do not how we feel.
  • What I do not understand about this verse is that it says 'enemies' . . . are we to love a devil worshiper? How are we to love them if we should not associate with them?
  • We can always pray earnestly. I have had 'enemies' at work in the past who have treated me badly, but it has really helped to pray for them earnestly. It changes our subconscious attitude to others and sets us free from being bound to them with negative attitudes.
  • [quote author=Unworthy1 link=topic=11335.msg136749#msg136749 date=1303980335]
    What I do not understand about this verse is that it says 'enemies' . . . are we to love a devil worshiper? How are we to love them if we should not associate with them?

    Just a reminder of the context of the command:

    You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

    Nobody wonders about loving the people who are easiest to love! :D I'm not sure exactly what to say about associating with them (though I would think that you don't necessarily have to associate with someone in order to love them), but it seems clear that loving them is the ultimate test of one's fidelity to our Savior's command.
  • Love does not mean being wimpy.

    Our Lord loved those who crucified him. He loves those who make themselves his enemies today. He loves us when we turn away from him and sin.

    Love is not an emotion, it is a determination of our will, and the desire of our heart to see the best for people and in people.
  • as father peter said, we have to 'pray for our enemies'.
    i used to pray to God to help me understand this, and after some years, i got the answer.
    i had a serious enemy. he was trying to get me sacked and out of a job permanently.
    it was doing my head in. i spoke to abouna and he looked at me very intently and said 'you have to pray for your enemies'. i was about to say, 'yeah, whatever, i read that in the Bible but this guy's a psycho and needs locking up', but there was something about the way he looked at me (i think many of u know what i mean!) that made me shut up and say, 'yes, abouna, i'll do that this week'.

    i got home and prayed, and tried to pray for this guy. i couldn't.
    the next day i tried and failed again.
    after several days (and knowing i would have to do it by the end of the week!), i cried out to God in desperation and said, 'God, you help me, i suppose you love this guy, i certainly don't! show me how much you love him'.
    then i started to think about him going to hell. it was not the first time i thought about it!  :-[
    but this time was different, i wasn't hoping he would go away, very far away (like to hell), but i imagined him far, far from God with no chance of coming back and no-one to love him.
    that's when i realised, he was a human too, and i certainly am not a saint. i prayed hard for him and actually became very sad thinking about how he was going to die and suffer in hell. that's when i understood what abouna meant.

    the next day i saw him in work (i was normally really scared of him!) and i remembered i had been able to pray for him and gave him a big, really genuine smile, and said 'good morning'. he froze and freaked out, hardly able to respond to my greeting, as i never smiled like that at him before.
    anyway to cut a long story short, he didn't change his actions, and in the end i did stand up for myself but in a way that was hesitant and kind, not laughing at the eventual punishment he got from God for his actions.
    what did change when i prayed for him was that i was no longer really scared of him and learning that was better than anything, as i was able to be less scared in other work situations after that.
  • What I do not understand about this verse is that it says 'enemies' . . . are we to love a devil worshiper? How are we to love them if we should not associate with them?

    With the above been said, I've been thinking about Judas and how we should feel towards him.. Yes he betrayed Jesus but at the same time we were saved through this betrayal! Are we to hate or love the person and/or his actions that triggered the events of Jesus's crucifixion? ??? The church rebukes Judas greatly in Thursday's Pascha of Passion Week, is this a form of hate?
  • Christ rebuked the pharisees for their hypocrisy, does that mean He hates them?
  • i thinr that Judas is a very perfect example that everyone may be with God,but Judas didn't wanted cos he loved mony,and didn't believed that God can exuse him.
  • i don't think it helps to try to love a wicked person who has died. so i don't try to love judas.
    if he had been alive, i would have prayed for him to repent.
    Jesus Christ loved the pharisees. if he had not, he would have said nothing and just let them die in their sin.
    there were converted pharisees in the early church, even saint paul was a pharisee.
  • Hmmm. I can understand not loving Judas, but I can't understand not trying to love Judas. Please help me, Mabsoota. I understand these things very simply, so when Jesus says to love and bless those who hate and persecute you, I would think that would apply perhaps more acutely (or whatever word fits better here...) to Judas and those like him than to others. Am I wrong? I mean, I don't love his actions and I do think he was wicked, but at the same time he is no less human than you or I, and so no less in need of redemption.

    Maybe I've misunderstood the Savior's command...anyway, I'd like to know what you think.

    For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

  • The Bible seems to give mixed messages about our enemies. On the one hand we should love them, on the other we should not associate with them.
  • How is that a mixed message?
  • Sorry, typing error.
  • I am not sure that we are taught not to associate with our enemies. Indeed, as far as is possible, we should try to win them over.

    Those we should not associate with are especially those who are caught in wicked and immoral behaviour and habits, in so far as we might also be attracted or tempted to fall into such behaviours, and we are especially to be cautious in associating with those who hold to false teachings.

    But there is also a difference between associating with those whose lives are incompatible with the Orthodox Faith, and having nothing to do with them. There is a difference between engaging in ministry with alcoholics, addicts, criminals even in prison and in rehabilitation, and having acquaintances who are not Orthodox, or are even Protestants; and making them our special friends. There is a need to be careful. Even while our Orthodox Faith urges us to be generous.

    If there are those who are trying to harm us, I mean that they make us their own enemies, then we are not to consider them as our own enemies. Usually they will not want to associate with us in any case. But every time we meet them we can do our best, as mabsoota described, to be friendly, and we can and must pray for them and do good to them.

    But there are those we must pray for and also need to avoid. When St John arrived at the public bath of Ephesus he heard that Cerinthus the heretic was within and he insisted on leaving immediately. It is not so much that the person is our enemy, they are not, but that the false teaching, or the false and destructive lifestyle a person endorses and promotes, is what we must resist and reject, and sometimes that does mean we must avoid the company of people.

    Sorry this is a bit rambling, but what I am aware of is that people who might be considered those we must not associate with fall into different categories. We have a responsibility to both preserve our own spiritual health and purity, and also, as far as we are able, to seek to reconcile those who hate us, correct those who are in error, and save those who are on a path of self-destruction.

    It is clear that there are many Coptic Orthodox youth who associate with those the Scriptures teach us to avoid and are led astray by such associations. It is not an academic matter.

    Father Peter
  • hi, i just meant it's best trying to love people who are still alive, or at least who u knew before they died. judas died about 2000 years ago, so i don't think he will benefit from our love. like, he isn't our enemy, he is a dead person who can't influence us.
    or maybe i missed something?
  • I don't know, Mabsoota. I definitely agree about loving people who are alive. I don't mean forget them in favor of dead people. But when I read a command like this that seems so impractical, I always take as an illustration of sorts, like "this is the length to which you must be prepared to go", and whether or not you personally reach it is another matter (since being perfect like our Father in heaven is perfect is such a tall order). Again, perhaps I am wrong, in which case I await correction. :-\
  • ok, so i'm let off not having to love judas?
    that's ok then
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