Updated: Jul 2
Can you be a friend to your enemy?
For 3 years Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him while not telling the other disciples or anyone else (see John 13:27). And although Jesus knew of this betrayal beforehand, He still called Judas His friend (see Matthew 26:50).
Jesus is a true definition of what a leader is, and one attribute of a great leader is someone who leads by example. So, when He instructs us to do something, He is telling us to do something that He has already done.
Jesus says, "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" in Matthew 5:44. Also, "Do good to those who hate you" in Luke 6:27. Finally, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" in Matthew 5:43-48.
Jesus tells us this because He has done it Himself and knows it is the best thing to do. During Jesus's friendship with Judas, He knew before it happened that Judas would betray Him. But He did something that most would not have not - He was quiet. Some of us would have trash talk Judas telling anyone who would listen about his betrayal toward us.
After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me - John 13:21.
Here was an opportunity to fill in His close followers and friends about what Judas was about to do to Him, but instead he spoke in a way that was vague that only Judas knew what Jesus was saying.
Jesus was speaking to 12 disciples when He made this statement in John 13:21. These 12 disciples weren't just anybody to Jesus they were His closes friends. These were men that had access to Him in ways that other people could not. They were privileged to information, secrets, and mysteries that others were not. They were more than His followers, they were His closes friend. Nevertheless, one of them betrayed Him.
How would you feel is someone close to you betrayed you? Someone who you revealed yourself to and shared personal private information with. You trust them and feel safe around them for them to one day betray you.
The Love that Jesus has for us is so powerful that He was able to still be kind, patient, humble, good, faithful, display self-control, have peace, be joyful, and loving toward Judas for 3 years although He knew Judas would betray Him and prompt His death.
Men like Martin Luther King Jr. understood the power of love toward their enemies to reverse hate. He saw firsthand how distorted hate can be but how transforming love can be (read more here).
"One night, I had a dream, and in the dream, I was looking through my bedroom window. While looking through the window, I saw in the sky what looked like clouds with people inside holding guns in their hands, and no one could see them but me. As I continued to watch, I saw the clouds starting to descend on earth. When the clouds landed on earth, the people in the clouds, now looking like soldiers, started shooting everyone. Then just like that, I saw myself on the ground with the soldiers, and they wanted to shoot me too, but they couldn’t. Suddenly, it was like a presence fell, and the hearts of the solders changed. Soon after, I could feel this strong presence of love in the atmosphere; then suddenly, I woke up. Immediately after wakening up, God gave me the meaning of the dream. The understanding that I received from this dream was God’s love is so powerful that it can change the heart of the vilest person to someone who is loving. His love is so powerful it can change the atmosphere. Excerpt from - “My Love Is Unconditional” - read more here
Love is so significant that without love, we are nothing and of no importance (see 1 Corinthians 13:2).
The love of God has the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or course of events. By expressing love, you can settle any dispute. Love is the answer to many dilemmas in our world. There is nothing that can come against true love.
With love you will become influential if you are in a position of power and help bring governments back to moral ways of doing things. Your decision to love can have a big impact on your family, your community, your nation, and the world. Don’t see it as something small, because the love that comes from God can change any situation.
God’s love is powerful enough to free you from habits and dependencies because His love is many things and can do many things. It is the answer to all problems we face in our homes, within ourselves, in our community, our nation, country, and in the world.
When you understand who Jesus is then you will know that He is the embodiment of love. He cannot be any other way. It is who He is.
To walk in love is to walk in power
Jesus's love for Judas covered his sin (see 1 Peter 4:8). Jesus kept to Himself what He knew Judas would do to Him (see John 13:28-29). The love in Jesus is so strong that it gave Him the ability to love despite what was going to happen to Him and despite what His friend was going to do to Him. It was only when Judas kissed Jesus that he was exposed as the betrayer. What's amazing is when Judas kissed Jesus, He called Judas a friend. Because of His loyal nature and unconditional love Jesus's feelings toward Judas did not change. He loved Judas very much no matter what Judas did. (see Mathew 26:50). In a relationship with Jesus, you will never be rejected (see John 6:37).
When we are wronged in any way we complain, gossip, get angry, and more. But when you allow love to be the ruling factor within you will conceal any offence using discretion and display self-control which is an attribute of Jesus (see Proverbs 10:12, Galatians 5:22-23).
We are encouraged to be more like Jesus because when you do, you are given the strength to overcome, forgive, let go, and love others no matter what they do (see Philippians 4:13). Then we will be able to do what Jesus did (see 1 John 2:6, Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:2). And it is the only way people can see God through us. Jesus did what He saw our Creator the Father in heaven do and we should be doing the same thing (see John 5:19). Like Jesus needed the assistance of God our Father to do what He was able to do, we too need Jesus's help to do what is required of us to do.
You cannot grow to become like someone if you don't know them and when you get to know Jesus, then it will be easy to be loving toward everybody whether good or bad. When you strive to live a lifestyle of love you develop characteristics of love. It will give you restraint and cause you to be humble instead of being outspoken, complain, or get angry.
To "cover” sin is to forgive it, and forgiveness is associated with love
Jesus also covered up the wrong done to Him when He was killed while being innocent by forgiving the killers. He understood they did not know what they were doing (see Luke 23:34). And for us, Jesus did more than covered up our sins, He abolished them on our behalf, now that's love! (see Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:10, Hebrews 10:12-14).
Here is a question, if Jesus did this for us why can't we do this to others?
Can you be a friend to your enemy?
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:34-35
If you learn to love and treat others the way you would like to be treated even when they mess up, then you can be a friend to your enemy. When we can put ourselves in the other person’s frame of mind, thought process, then strive to gain understanding, and next ask ourselves if that was me how would I like to be treated we will be able to love our enemies. And for some of them, be friends.
For most of us when we do wrong our hope is that the person will forgive us or be understanding. We don't want them to tell other people, gossip, complain, or retaliate. We hope they can move on or still love us like before. We want them to know that life is a learning process where we are forever learning and growing.
Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to them no matter what the cost. You will always believe in them, always expect the best of them, and always stand your ground in defending them (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
The opposer who we know as satan loves to see us arguing, fighting, disagreeing, hating, and not loving each other. But this is a destructive way to live that keeps us in a cycle that only leads to devastation. Because unlike Jesus's loving nature, satan's nature is to kill, steal, and destroy (see John 10:10).
Aim to live a lifestyle of love because it is the greatest way to live.