[forthright] How Can We Love Our Enemies?

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 07:14:47 -0200
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

Our managing editor is doing a stint for pain
treatment. Pray for him. Details: http://is.gd/kxLqU


COLUMN: LIVING THE FAITH

How Can We Love Our Enemies?
 by Richard Mansel, managing editor

   "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"
   (Matthew 5:44, NKJV).
	
It is difficult to find a more daunting task than
loving our enemies. It reminds us afresh that
everything God has asked of his children requires
conscious effort. We cannot ever hope to live in
holiness on automatic pilot. Doing what comes natural
to the flesh will always find us opposed to the way God
desires for us to live.

One of the most difficult of these dichotomies is to
love our enemies.

First, we must realize what it does not mean. Loving
them does not constitute endorsement of their behavior.
Further, it does not mean that we have to like their
lifestyle. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is
describing a life of holiness, contrasting it with the
carnal life.

The Beatitudes are stunning in calling us to rise above
the sins of humanity and strive to grow (Matthew
5:3-11). We must never settle for the foibles of men
(Ephesians 4:17-19). Paul wrote that we are to be
"transformed" from a weak fleshly person to a strong
godly individual (Romans 12:1-2).

After the transformation, we begin to see the world
through spiritual eyes. We see everything differently,
including individuals. We understand that we are all
made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and that we all
have a soul that will enter eternity (1 Peter 2:11).

This new vision is the reason we are able to love our
enemies. When the fleshly person looks at an
individual, they see the fleshly things. They begin to
build walls against them or decide to accept them.
Accordingly, the sinful barriers of racism, prejudice,
bigotry, hatred, etc. rise like Cobras in the fleshly
mind, when we encounter other people.

A spiritual person sees another individual as someone
with a soul and heart. We are able to see what is truly
important in them. Therefore, we are able to separate
them from their shortcomings. We give them a chance to
allow whom they really are to rise to the surface.

This is how we separate the sin from the sinner in our
minds. It requires spiritual and emotional maturity on
our parts.

We are able to compartmentalize in our minds. We
realize the destructive nature of sin (Romans 3:10-23).
Accordingly, we are able to grasp the influence of
weakness in people's lives and not take things so
personally. For example, when someone persecutes us, we
realize that Satan is acting, and we turn our anger
toward the real culprit (2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 5:8).

In the case of our enemies, we can see past their
bluster into the stain on their souls. They have
surrendered to Satan, are unwittingly doing his bidding
and showing his face to the world. We can hate their
actions, feel sad for them and pray that they would
allow Christ to heal them.

This mindset allows us less stress and turmoil in this
life and we can rise above much of the pain of this
world, through Christ. In other words, it does what no
human doctor can ever hope to accomplish, provide inner
peace (Philippians 4:6-7; Isaiah 40:31). 

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