Love Better: Loving my Enemies

I don’t talk on the phone unless I absolutely have to.

In fact, my friends know that when they call me, they have to begin the conversation with “No one’s dead or dying” because my initial thought, if you are calling me, is that some tragedy has struck.

I was sitting in the hospital with my grandma, waiting on a biopsy, when my phone rang–displaying the name of one of my good friends. I couldn’t take the call because I was sitting in the surgery prep room, so I immediately texted back, explaining the situation, and ensuring no one was, in fact, dead.

They weren’t.

But, she probably would have preferred for someone to be.

She was dealing with hateful, hurtful people.

We live in a fallen world–a fallen world full of fallen people.

Unfortunately, that means we are subject to all of the negative crap that comes from fallen people, and if we’re all being honest and transparent, I think we can all admit that sometimes people just plain stink.

  • They are evil.
  • They are mean.
  • They are hurtful.
  • They are selfish.

And, undoubtedly these fallen humans will:

  • Gossip about us.
  • Judge us.
  • Say nasty things to us or about us.
  • Hurt us.
  • Undermine us.
  • Create traps for us.

The worst ones will do it with a smile on their face and treat us like they are our best friends until we turn our backs.

Loving these fallen humans is hard.

Loving our enemies–nearly impossible.

God Insists we Love our Enemies:

Unfortunately, God didn’t really give us the option to opt out of loving our enemies. Throughout scripture, we are met with reminder after reminder that we are to love our enemies. Within these scriptures, we even get a pretty clear picture of how we are supposed to love them:

Luke 6: 27-28 (TPT):

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies and do something wonderful for them in return for their hatred. When someone curses you, bless that person in return. When others mistreat and harass you, accept it as your mission to pray for them.

  • Do something wonderful for them
  • Bless them
  • Pray for them

I Peter 3:9 (TPT):

Never retaliate when someone treats you wrongly, nor insult those who insult you, but instead, respond by speaking a blessing over them—because a blessing is what God promised to give you.

  • Speak a blessing over them

Romans 12:14, 17-29 (TPT):

Speak blessing, not cursing, over those who reject and persecute you.. . . Never hold a grudge or try to get even, but plan your life around the noblest way to benefit others. Do your best to live as everybody’s friend. Beloved, don’t be obsessed with taking revenge, but leave that to God’s righteous justice.

  • Speak blessing, not cursing 
  • Never hold a grudge or try to get even
  • Plan your life around how to benefit others
  • Do your best to live as everybody’s friend
  • Don’t be obsessed over revenge

Proverbs 25: 21-22 (TPT):

Is your enemy hungry? Buy him lunch. 

Win him over with your kindness.

Your surprising generosity will awaken his conscience 

and God will reward you with favor.

  • Buy them lunch
  • Win them over with your kindness
  • Show them your generosity

Matthew 5:43-45 (TPT):

“Your ancestors have also been taught ‘Love your neighbors  and hate the one who hates you.’ However, I say to you, love your enemy, bless the one who curses you, do something wonderful for the one who hates you,  and respond to the very ones who persecute you by praying for them. For that will reveal your identity as children of your heavenly Father. He is kind to all by bringing the sunrise to warm and rainfall to refresh whether a person does what is good or evil.

  • Love them
  • Bless them
  • Do something wonderful for them
  • Pray for them

Ephesians 4:32 (TPT):

But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love.

  • Be kind
  • Be affectionate
  • Graciously forgive 

If you’re tempted to stop reading here, I understand. I’m tempted to stop writing here because eek.

Loving my Enemies is about Me:

When I was in counseling during my entire divorce process, I learned some valuable things about people. There are wonderful licensed Christian Counselors out there, I’m sure; however, I had a previous experience with a Christian Counselor that was terrible, so I opted for a licensed therapist without the word Christian attached to his title. This was the best thing for me at the time due to my baggage and the fact that my logical brain needed biological and psychological reasons for why people were acting the way were at the time.

Here’s my biggest takeaway from counseling:

The only thing you control on this earth is you.

Take a minute and read that one another time:

The only thing you control on this earth is you.

I had spent years and years believing I had control over all sorts of things in my life and all kinds of people in my sphere of influence.

It never occurred to me that my belief was skewed.

Once that thought completely marinated in my brain, my entire perspective on, well, the world and people changed.

Here’s the thing, though–this is not a new concept.

Scroll back up and take a look at all those scriptures on loving your enemies.

Do you see what they all have in common?

They aren’t about controlling or changing your enemy at all.

They are about you and your individual behavior in the situation.

Do you want to know why?

Because the only thing you can control is you.

Let’s take another look at that list of advice we get on how to treat our enemies:

  • Do something wonderful for them
  • Bless them
  • Pray for them
  • Speak a blessing over them
  • Speak blessing, not cursing 
  • Never hold a grudge or try to get even
  • Plan your life around how to benefit others
  • Do your best to live as everybody’s friend
  • Don’t be obsessed over revenge
  • Buy them lunch
  • Win them over with your kindness
  • Show them your generosity
  • Love them
  • Bless them
  • Do something wonderful for them
  • Pray for them
  • Be kind
  • Be affectionate
  • Graciously forgive 

All of these things are things well within our control.

  • We choose how we respond to people
  • We choose who we do wonderful things for
  • We choose who we pray for
  • We choose who we bless
  • We choose who we love
  • We choose who we benefit
  • We choose whether or not we seek revenge

We choose.

We are in control of ourselves, our thoughts, our prayers, and our actions.

Loving your Enemies Means Understanding Their Behavior:

Another one of the other major takeaways from my time in counseling was the understanding that the majority of the time, a person’s behavior is about them–not you.

That’s another good one.

So, let’s read that again:

The majority of the time, a person’s behavior is about them–not you.

This one was a little harder for me to understand, but once I got it, it was like an “aha” moment in my brain.

While Maslow’s hierarchy of needs tells us that we, as humans, have the same basic needs, how those needs manifest is different for all of us.

I want you to think about one of your enemies–or, if you don’t have any enemies, someone who dislikes you or makes your life a little harder.

Okay, now think about the situations where that person is awful to you.

Now, this is the hard part–think about why that person is awful to you in that particular situation.

Let me give you an example:

I have shared parenting with my ex-husband, and we literally live across the street from each other. Before Kate could drive, she would come to hang out at my house every day–regardless of whose week it was. On her dad’s weeks, she would get all her homework done, shower, and eat dinner before he even got home. After some time doing this, it became a major stressor for her and me because we never knew when he was going to pick her up or if he was planning on having dinner with her. Eventually, I asked him to please communicate with us when he was picking her up and if he was providing dinner.

All hell broke loose.

Kate wasn’t allowed to hang out at my house after school on his days anymore–even though no one was at his house.

It was a complete disaster.

If I step away from this situation and really look at it, I can see his reaction wasn’t about me at all. It was about his feelings of inferiority, of not being a good dad, and of losing power in our post-divorce relationship by having to communicate with me.

It would be a great illustration if I could sit here and tell you how I loved him like Jesus and showered him with kindness and prayers after this disaster, but for the sake of honesty and transparency, let’s just say I’m still a work in progress too.

Being able to step back from your situation with that difficult personality allows you to process and think through why it is that person is acting the way they are acting.

Loving my Enemies Means Separation:

Now, I know there are some of you who are thinking, “heck, yeah, it definitely means me separating from them and their presence!” 

Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of separation I’m talking about here.

In order to love our enemies in the way the bible instructs us, we have to begin to separate their treatment of us from our emotions.

I know, I know.

Easier said than done.

I have to constantly remind myself that I am the only thing in this equation I can control and that my nemesis’s treatment of me has way more to do with them than it does me. 

That’s the starting point.

If we accept that their behavior is about them and not us, it’s easier to separate our emotions from the situation.

For example, let’s say a colleague disagrees with how you are parenting. They take it upon themselves to gossip about you and tear you and your family down every chance they get.  

Let me ask you this–why?

How does your parenting style affect their lives?

It doesn’t.

At all.

And that tells me that their judgment of you and gossip about you has way more to do with themselves than it does with you. While you probably want to march right up to them and tell them what an idiot they are, nothing will get solved or resolved with that behavior.

Because you are the bigger person, because you understand you can only control yourself, and because you recognize this behavior is about them and not you, you can begin to peel away the connection between your emotions and this behavior.

Is it easy?


Is it painful?


But, it is necessary, and it is healing.

And, it’s the only way you can find the strength to love your enemies in all those ways the scriptures have instructed.

Loving my Enemies Means Praying for Them

If you go back and look at those scriptures, one of the common themes you’ll notice in them is that of prayer.

The odds of you becoming best friends with your enemy are pretty low. In fact, the odds of you being able to tolerate your enemy is pretty low. But, I know this to be true–before you can start doing any of those other kind and generous things for your enemies, you should start praying for them.

It’s tough to hate someone you’re constantly praying for.

We serve and love a God who is the God of the impossible. So, who knows what God might do through those prayers?

Let me be exceptionally clear here–in no way am I implying that it’s easy to love your enemies. It took me years of counseling and separation to be able to understand these things, and I still stumble some days. What I do know, though, is that through prayer and an understanding of what you can control and why people act the way they do, you can start to put into practice these ways God says we need to love our enemies.

Good luck, friends!

Reflection Questions:

  1. Who is it you have been thinking about as you’ve read this post?
  2. What do you think is the root of their treatment of you?
  3. Lay this relationship at the feet of Jesus today and begin praying for that person at least once a day.

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6 thoughts on “Love Better: Loving my Enemies

Add yours

  1. Kristen, there’s so much to consider here, to mull over, to walk into. Thankfully, we don’t go this alone, God is with us, guiding and comforting and being so very present as we make hard choices in deep valleys.


  2. Kristen, you’ve convicted my heart. I’ve been struggling with a specific traumatic situation that has impacted a person I love dearly yet I know God is calling me to love like Christ. Thank you for pointing to Him.



  3. I’m finding it easier to turn my back on spiteful people and comments and walk away, without a fight or an explanation. I don’t need the negativity. Thanks for linking with #pocolo


  4. Loving our enemies is probably THE very hardest thing we do. Ugh. I don’t know anybody that does it super well but having the goal at least points us in the right direction. Thanks for sharing your experiences and reminding us we’re not alone with struggling to meet our intention of loving enemies better. Thanks also for linking up at Grace & Truth!


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