Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Corinthians 2:7–8)
If you are as human as I am, this might be the point where you’re thinking, Okay, God, come on! I’ve done the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do by trusting You to handle this situation on my behalf. Now you’re telling me to reaffirm my love toward my enemy? I don’t know about all this… In order for this step to really sink in, we need to adjust the way we think about love—from a human perspective to a heavenly perspective.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32–36)
When Christ refers to “lov[ing] your enemies,” He isn’t referring to a feeling. He is not referencing the love you “fall into” with that boy or girl you’ve had a crush on for months. This type of love is an act of will. It is a conscious effort on your part to love your enemies. At the core of this love, we are acting in the best interest of the one who hurt us.
Does this task seem almost unbearable for you at this time? Does it seem as if God is asking too much of you? If it helps to put things into perspective, the entire world (including you) is in rebellion against and direct defiance of God on this matter most of the time. But He continues to forgive us, love us, and act in our best interest.
To truly love your enemies, you must make a choice to treat them the way you desire to be treated. We must take hold of the fact that loving the ones who hurt us is a sure-fire way to become more like Christ. This is the greatest reward anyone can receive! This reward is worth laying down our pride and loving the hurter more than we love ourselves.
Perhaps one of the greatest human misconceptions is that one is able to forgive another prior to extending love to that person. Have you ever told someone that you forgave them, yet not changed your negative behavior and thoughts toward that person over time? If so, you most likely have reversed the Biblical steps of true forgiveness. Because our Lord is the essence of true love, every gift He gives comes from love in order to bring us back to His love. Therefore, if you desire authentic healing and a God-honoring lifestyle, you must choose to forgive in the same way as He does—by extending love first!
Excerpt from new release, Named by God .