Why Love Your Enemies?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

'I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). The fact is, the aggressor does not need more aggression, any more than the drug abuser needs more drugs or the alcoholic needs another drink.

We can ask God to help us see evidence of the way that He has created each of us - right in the place where an aggressor seems to be. This asking is the prayer Christ Jesus spoke of.

God creates nothing other than what is in His "image" and "likeness" (see Gen. 1:26.) In other words, God creates nothing other than what is good. I had an experience that brought this fact to light.

An individual who owed me a lot of money said and did everything possible to make me look like a liar and a fool. I had to go to court three times in six months. Leaning on God, I was able to remain poised throughout this ordeal. But I had not gained true insight into how to love, bless, do good to, pray for, the aggressor. I had not seen him as the perfect child of God.

One day while sitting in court, I noticed the various people waiting for their cases to be heard. Many seemed upset and distraught. One man in particular sat in a corner with his head down, never looking up.

Instead of dwelling on my own problems, I decided to pray silently the Lord's Prayer. I chose this prayer because it includes all of us, all humankind. As I began "Our Father," I included everyone in that courtroom. Suddenly, to me there was no more aggressor. There were only God's children sitting together in the harmony of Love. I prayed to see that the one true Judge is the Almighty God. He is Truth, the Judge and jury of the universe. I felt the cold atmosphere of the courtroom change. And I was really at peace, for the first time in many months.

As people went before the judge one by one, they came out of that courtroom happy, smiling, and rejoicing. One lady even stepped into the hallway and wished everyone goodwill. Unbelievable. The man who'd been so sad left in amazement, as if he couldn't believe how well things had turned out for him. And yes, when it was my turn to go before the judge, he ruled in my favor.

All the time that I'd spent praying for myself was not what was critical to healing the situation. I had to stop praying to get something for myself and to change someone else. I had to start praying unselfishly.

This newspaper's founder wrote that "we cannot choose for ourselves, but must work out our salvation in the way Jesus taught" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 30). Jesus taught that love is the healing tool in an aggressive situation. We can trust that our true nature is to love because God is Love. And it is the love of God that heals.

Once you see yourself and others as children of God and know that divine Love is all-powerful, it will matter less what a person says or does. Power and success are always on the side of God, Love. The Ten Commandments (see Ex. 20:3-17) and Christ's Sermon on the Mount (see Matt., Chaps. 5-7) are two documents that can direct and guide us in how to think and act toward others.

Turning to God means turning away from what is unlike Him in nature. Hate has no place in God; evil has no home in the identity of God's children. Jesus proved this fact by showing love to a tax collector who was not well liked by most people. He was evidently known in his community as lacking integrity and honesty. But when Jesus spoke to him, he must have spoken with love and compassion. And the man was obviously changed by the love shown to him, because he made a public declaration that he would do better in the future and redress past wrongs (see Luke 19:1-10).

All of this only begins to show what's possible as we learn and practice Christly love.

The Christian Science Journal is a monthly magazine that has in-depth articles about the power of God's love.

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