Loving your enemies, this sounds like an oxymoron. Why would you want to love someone that has hates you , persecutes you, does you wrong? It just does not make sense and it goes against our natural human instinct. It is easier to hate those who hate you and dish out the same disrespect that they did to you. But as Christians we are called to do something different. We are called to mirror the emotions of God which is love, for all people, no matter what.
There are so many Christians who say they are Christians, but when faced with the hatred from someone else all that love disappears? And then we wonder why there are so many people confused about Christianity. Because we say one thing and do something else.
If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.” Matthew 5: 43-46
Trust and believed I have been hated, persecuted, I have been called dumb, gullible, and thought of as weak because I want to forgive my enemies. People do not understand forgiveness, because they equate it with not standing up for yourself. The reality is that it takes more strength to forgive someone that has done you wrong then it does to hate someone that has done you wrong. Hating a person who hates you is easy, where does that get you?
I once had a old boss that was so insecure. She was hated by all and no one wanted to be around her. She forced people to be her friend by using pay raises and promotion as a weapon to be hanged over their head. And then for kicks she would scream at them and degrade them in front of others. She knew if they wanted a promotion they would simply have to take it. And many people did. And to me, she would often follow me around in the halls and get mad when I did not want to have a conversation with her. She would call me into the office and ask about my personal life and then get mad when I did not want to tell her. She would cut hours from me, lie about me, and tell other employees not to talk to me among other things.
All of this of course was stressful and the natural reaction would be for me to go back at her at hard as she was coming at me. But when you read this, do you not feel sad for her more than anything? I mean really, normal people do not do the things that I just described above? It was sad that she had to force people into being her friend? Sad that she had to use her position as a supervisor as a way to dominate people? The hate that I could have used for her was used instead for me just feeling sorry for the type of person that she was. And I realized that I should not waste any mind space retaliating against her. Her living in her insecure mind should be torment enough.
Instead I forgave, went on with my life, went on with my calling, and went on with my education. Although her bullying on the workplace was torture, it just made me stronger and it did not stop any of the plans that I had for myself. So to waste time showing her the same behavior that she showed me would have just been that, a waste of time. I had more important thing to worry about, and left her to deal with her own issues.
So often times when people hurt you, what they are really saying; is that they are hurting on the inside themselves. They do not know how to find a positive outlet for their emotions and so they just have dysfunctional behavior toward other people. Something is wrong with them; not you. It is their problems not yours, but you can make it your problem by using retaliation and not using forgiveness. Wallowing in unforgiveness and hatred toward anyone allows the flaws they have in their personality to affect yours. Now do not get it twisted forgiveness does not mean that you will be their punching bag (see my blog here). I do not suggest anyone put themselves in a position to allow themselves to be abused by other people. You can love your enemies from a distance. You do not have to go to lunch and drink coffee with them, but you can still choose to forgive them. If you chose not to forgive but remain in hatred and animosity toward them, then you will allow their demons to swallow the goodness about you as well. Forgiveness is always for our own good and it really has very little do with our enemies.