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How to Love those who have hurt you....

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  • Bridget Night
    How to Love Your Enemies I was just reading the Sermon on the Mount this morning and there was some commentary on it that I thought was very good. Just wanted
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2006
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      How to Love Your Enemies

      I was just reading the Sermon on the Mount this morning and there was some commentary on it that I thought was very good. Just wanted to share it and see what you think?

      1. Loving your enemies is one of the most difficult commandments. The dictionary says an enemy may be one who cherishes harmful designs against another, one who is hostile or extremely unfriendly, a declared opponent or adversary, an assailant, a backbiter, or slanderer, a military antagonist, a stiff competitor, or a traitor.
      Obviously, there are many different kinds of enemies, and they must be dealt with in several different ways. Perhaps we could classify them in 3 different groups.

      1. There is the human relations enemy. This is the most common kind. Such an enemy may arise from a personality conflict, an off-handed, unkind remark, spreading gossip or tale-bearing, perceiving the individual as being a social or business threat, perhaps mutual resentment because of adverse political views or even different religious views.

      This type of enemy can be cultivated with kindness and tolerance easier than the next two groups. Sometimes it simply requires getting better acquainted with the other person to make the hostility barrier diminish and eventually disappear. Watching for an opportunity to do a favor for an adversary nearly always alleviates tensions and opens doors for better relations. Seeking to develop a true sense of understanding and love can bring some surprising results.

      2. The next group is more challenging. This is where you or your family have suffered a significant injury by someone. The injury may be physical, economic, or even an injury to one's position in a profession or social status. Even wanting to love this kind of enemy takes a lot of prayer and introspection. But since this problem arises in every congregation or neighborhood, the Lord has suggested the following procedure to see if the feelings of those who have been injured can be resolved. In the New Testament it says. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou has gained they brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
      Although this three-step attempt to love someone who has been an offender does not always work, it succeeds often enough to make it very worthwhile.

      3. Finally, we come to the third and most difficult group of all. These re the wretched wicked. They are the enemies of all the community, sometimes preying upon the whole of society. This type of enemy is in a mental state of anarchy and revolt. We call it the criminal mind. This type of person enjoys his or her greatest satisfaction in getting away with deceit and treachery. This type of enemy does not respond to kindness and love the way both of the other groups usually do. This last group considers kindness a weakness. It is interpreted as stupidity that deserves to be exploited by the criminal. To love this kind of enemy requires a different approach.

      Professional penologists have learned that the criminal mind must discover certain strict and undeviating legal barriers beyond which he or she cannot go. The criminal must discover that he or she cannot go beyond these limits without inviting serious consequences. This is called establishing fixed parameters with visible firmness. The next step is to establish a sense of fairness--a feeling that he or she is being treated fairly even though the program is administered with firmness. The incorrigible criminal may not respond to the firmness-fairness therapy, but the majority do. Once the criminal has demonstrated a desire to cooperate and get back on track, then the element of love and kindness can be carefully administered in measured does.

      However, at no time must the criminal get the impression you feel sorry for him or her. Nor must the criminal get the impression that you accept any kind of excuse for what happened. It is very important that the offender face up to what was done. The lord calls it 'confession of sins. Penologists call it 'reality therapy.
      So we learn from the Lord what he means by loving our enemies. We must love them enough to want to help them. However, there is no requirement that we drown them with love. Wisdom must be used. Love is a very sacred and precious attribute and it must be administered carefully and wisely. It must not be cheapened or squandered. The best kind of love is reciprocal love, and this the ultimate goal--to change an enemy into a loving friend.


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