God Says to Love Your Enemies
Let Jesus transform your heart
Doug Britton, MFT
Introduction to loving your enemies
This Bible study on loving your enemies and self-test is part of a series of free online studies on anger. It is adapted from Victory over Grumpiness, Irritation, and Anger. Feel free to print it out, and use it to evaluate how well you love your enemies.
Why should you love your enemies?
God commands us to love everyone—including our enemies.
Here are some key Scriptures (Bible verses) on loving your enemies:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)
We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it. (1 Corinthians 4:12)
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. (1 John 2:9-10)
Our highest calling is to spread the Gospel and help others grow in Christ.
We should be passionately concerned about introducing people to Jesus. Along the same lines, we should be passionately concerned about other believers’ spiritual welfare.
Study “dissensions” in Galatians 5:19-21 and Romans 13:13.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)
Jesus loved his enemies. Make him your example.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)
Related: What God says about anger
Hints to help you love your enemies
Realize that you may have misinterpreted the other person’s words.
- He or she may be distracted.
- He or she may be busy.
- He or she may be going through a personal crisis.
- He or she may be sick or exhausted.
Realize that you may be right: The other person may be your enemy.
However, if someone insults you or dislikes you, respond in a Christ-like manner. Don’t take things personally or give in to hurt feelings and let your emotions control you. Instead, see the other person as someone with a problem who needs God’s help and your prayers.
Determine what part you played in the problem.
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5)
See problems as opportunities to grow in Christ.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. (James 1:2)
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Love and forgive…even if your enemy does not apologize.
Follow Jesus’ example
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)
Follow Stephen’s example
Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)
Love and pray for your enemies.
- When you feel irritated about someone:
- Pray for the other person’s needs.
- Pray that God will help you forgive.
- Pray that God will help you love your enemy.
Evaluate your love for your enemies
How well do you practice the following verses?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Score yourself from 0-10 on each of the following.
“0” means “I need a lot of improvement.”
“10” means “I’m great at this.”
___ I am patient.
___ I am kind.
___ I do not envy.
___ I do not boast.
___ I am not proud.
___ I am not rude.
___ I am not self-seeking.
___ I am not easily angered.
___ I keep no record of wrongs.
___ I do not delight in evil.
___ I rejoice with the truth.
___ I always protect.
___ I always trust.
___ I always hope.
___ I always persevere.
___ My love never fails.
Love your enemies — Personal application
Print this study and write a prayer asking God to help you love your enemies and others:
Related: More Bible studies on anger, grumpiness, and irritation
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About Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.