You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… MATTHEW 5:43-44 ESV
In order to love my enemy, I have to identify my enemy
I am surrounded by enemies, who are like lions hungry for human flesh. Their teeth are like spears and arrows; their tongues are like sharp swords. PSALMS 57:4 GNT
Who are my enemies?
My enemies are usually closer than I think
And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. MATTHEW 10:36 ESV
As long as your life is focused on your enemies, you will never defeat the enemy within.
I am my worst enemy
- People struggle instinctually
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. ROMANS 7:18-19 NLT
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” LUKE 23:34 ESV
- People struggle with their feelings
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? JEREMIAH 17:9 NLT
- People struggle with their thoughts
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ISAIAH 55:8-9 ESV
The LORD knows people’s thoughts; he knows they are worthless! PSALMS 94:11 NLT
Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. ROMANS 7:24-25 NLT
How does Jesus save me?
Jesus saves me with his love
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 JOHN 4:7-8 ESV
God’s love will teach me:
- How to love God
- How to love others
- How to love myself
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 2 SAMUEL 22:4 ESV
Jesus has a better life for you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… MATTHEW 5:43-44 ESV
Lord, save me from my critical spirit. Instead of hating myself, teach me to truly love myself the way you do. Teach me to see myself as you see me and to begin living the life you have for me. Help me to shift my life for all eternity… right here and right now.
When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. PROVERBS 16:7 ESV
If you want to make peace with yourself, you must surrender to Jesus.
Personal Reflection Guide
Take a few moments to slow down, setting aside the events of the day. Consider all of your shortcomings from the day, and visualize laying these all at the feet of Jesus. Think for a minute about the fact that God loves you with all his heart. Ask God to help you to experience this truth in your heart in a tangible way right now. As you consider God’s heart for you, and the reality that what hurts more than anything is when children cannot see their own value, picture God looking at you right now with tender eyes of love. What do you see when you look at yourself and how does this differ from the way God sees you? Stay in this moment, wrestling with God if you have to. As God reveals how he really sees you, ask him to give you a glimpse of what the “true you”—the one fully embracing who God has made you to be—could bring to the world. Journal your thoughts in the space below, and share with your group if you feel comfortable.
- PERSONAL REFLECTION: Begin group time engaging with the Personal Reflection Guide. As you explore your own journey with God’s love for you, journal any reflections in the space below, sharing with the group what God brought up, if you feel comfortable.
- REAL WITH SELF: Selfish love is a bad thing; loving yourself is not. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your self-love? What needs to change in the way you love yourself?
- REAL WITH GOD: Following our own instincts can often get us into trouble. What aspects of your life (and heart!) do you need to surrender to Jesus?
- REAL WITH OTHERS: Everybody is struggling. How can we take steps to show grace to others?
- REAL WITH OTHERS: Take a moment to go around your group and say things about other people that they do not see in themselves.
- TAKE ACTION: We can often distract ourselves by filling our heads with noise, even though it may be with good things. Carve out some time this week to spend in intentional silence, perhaps on your drive to work, while on a walk, etc. Pay attention to what surfaces, and practice giving these things up to God, allowing him to speak truth into them. Share with the group how you feel about this exercise, and if it’s helpful, ask them to hold you accountable by checking in during the week.