Note: (It was a Note, but it grew some).
The principle of "loving your enemies" is a radical and transformative teaching from the Bible, particularly highlighted in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. It goes against the natural inclination to despise or seek revenge against those who have wronged us.
Here are some ways you can practice this challenging but rewarding biblical principle:
Pray for Them Praying for someone takes your focus off of your negative feelings toward them and redirects it toward their well-being. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says, "But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!" Prayer can soften your heart towards your enemies and may even effect change in them.
Show Empathy It can be incredibly difficult, but try to put yourself in your enemy's shoes. Understanding their struggles, fears, and motivations might not justify their actions, but it could give you a broader perspective, making it easier for you to show kindness.
Avoid Retaliation It's tempting to retaliate when someone wrongs us, but Romans 12:17-19 advises against it. The text suggests leaving room for God's wrath and instead focusing on doing what is honorable.
Perform Acts of Kindness Counterintuitive (my big word for today), as it may seem, doing good to those who dislike you can be liberating. It helps remove the power the person has over your emotions and sets you free from the cycle of hatred and revenge. Plus, it could potentially change your enemy's perspective about you.
Guard Your Speech The book of James is rife with teachings about the power of the tongue. Speaking ill of your enemy perpetuates negative emotions and conflict. Choose instead to speak kindly or not at all.
Seek Reconciliation, Not Victory It's natural to want to 'win' against your enemy, but the Bible calls us to seek peace. Matthew 5:25 advises us to settle matters quickly with an adversary. You don't have to become best friends, but striving for a peaceful relationship is more beneficial than constantly seeking to come out on top.
Model the Love of Christ Finally, you have the ultimate example of love in Jesus Christ, who loved even those who crucified Him. Reflecting on His sacrificial love can inspire you to display that same love towards others, even those who are difficult to love.