How Do We Love Our Enemies?

By Staff Writer

Categories: Family, Loving Our Enemies, Relationships

Issue:

How do we love our enemies? This is a topic we’ve been asked to examine, and we believe that loving our enemies starts at home.

Response (staff answer):

There’s a lot of enmity in the world—such hatred that would drive people to punish or persecute others physically, verbally, politically, socially, or emotionally. But there is also a lot of good going on. And we can’t lose sight of the good. We can’t let jealousy, resentment, embittered politics, or personal opinions overpower love. We must stop the hatred. Jesus told us to love our enemies. But how?

Start by loving our family. Why?

Because what we do at home ripples out into the world. How we live our daily lives with those in our family affects every single relationship we have—with friends, classmates, colleagues, employees, bosses, people we interact with as we conduct our personal and home-life business. And those relationships impact other relationships. And the ripple continues.

Home is our practice and proving ground for loving. Living in a family provides so many opportunities to learn more about what it means to love. We get to work through differences of opinions and the concept of fairness. We learn how to compromise, prioritize, and work together as a team. We learn how to encourage and support, how to bring out the best in each other.

At least, that’s what we hope to do—to cherish the unique individuality of each of us, support our family members through trials, protect each other from harm, trust each other to care for us. Home should be a safe place where we can develop the skill to love, even when it seems impossible.

But that’s not always the case. It’s not always easy to love family members. All we have to do is look at the high divorce rate, be aware of the number of children growing up without fathers, see how parents treat their children in public places, or notice the smart phones separating parent from child and sibling from sibling, preventing any real communication and stunting emotional growth, which has the negative impact of increasing violence. And enmity continues. But it doesn’t have to.

We can commit to creating and maintaining a loving and harmonious environment at home. We can set the standard of love, connection, respect, appreciation, joy. To do this, we have to set some boundaries. No hurting. No yelling. No ________ fill in the blank. We simply cannot erupt in angry outbursts, talk with contempt, blame the other person, or continue the cycle of retaliation and revenge.

Since we all can feel negative emotions, it’s really important to help each other learn how to work through those feelings in a calm and respectful way that keeps everyone safe and brings a peaceful resolution. So we make it a priority. We take the time to love each family member. We appreciate and celebrate what’s good about each one. When there’s an issue, we stop and listen, empathize, connect, discuss, negotiate, compromise, problem-solve, find win-win solutions. These are the tools we use to propagate peace. And where there is peace, there is no enmity.

All of this takes prayer. It takes daily practice. It takes turning our moments over to God for guidance. Perhaps one of the best resources we have to help us establish harmony in the home and to destroy enmity is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). What power is in the message! What peace!

Let’s make the commitment to read the Sermon on the Mount weekly (even in different translations of the Bible), and see how the principles Jesus teaches enter into our hearts, homes, and lives … and then ripple out into the world, creating a realm of heavenly harmony.

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