What did the Lord mean in the gospel by His words: “Love your enemies?. ” (Matt. 5:44). How can that be done?
Loving one’s friend is something ordinary and found even among pagans and unbelievers. Loving one’s enemy however is the highest and noblest moral virtue which the Lord desires of us. He wants us to hate evil, but not those who do it. We are to hate the sin, but not the sinner. Sinners are only the victims of misunderstanding, or of the Devil. We must love them and pray for them, so that they will stop acting like that.
How we are to do that is by following these points:
1. Not bearing hatred in our hearts towards anyone, however much wrong he has done us. For no hatred can dwell in the heart which houses love.
2. Not rejoicing at all, at any misfortune that should strike one who has done us harm, for the Bible itself tells us that: “Love does not rejoice in iniquity… ” (1 Cor. 13:6). We should rather feel sorry that some harm has befallen our enemy.
3. We should counter evil with love and goodness, and by doing so, change the feelings of the one who wants to do us wrong. As St. John Chrysostom said: “There is a way of being rid of your enemy, and that is to turn him into a friend.”
4. Confronting hostility with hostility only serves to inflame it, while keeping silent in the face of hostility, will simply cause it to stay as it is. But confronting hostility with love, heals it and makes it disappear.
5. Therefore, do not speak evil against your enemy, in case the hostility of him heart increases. But instead, do the opposite. If you find in his anything good, praise him for it, for this will help to change his feelings towards you.
6. If’ your enemy falls into difficulties, go to help him, for the Bible says: ” If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; ” (Rom. 12:20).
7. The Bible also says: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ” (Rom. 12:21). If you confront hostility with hostility, evil will have overcome you… Whereas if You confront it with love, then you will have overcome evil with good.