We Are Admonished to Love And Forgive Our Enemies (But What Of Our Friends?)


Most of us remember the charge given by the Savior as recorded by Matthew:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,  do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (vs. 44)

He was, of course, instructing the multitude that it is easy to love those that are close to us, someone who is a friend. But it is much harder to love an enemy. And certainly we know this to be true.  But what of loving those that are friends  who offend us?  Sometimes it is easier to love a distant enemy than to love a close friend who has done us wrong.  “Up close” forgiveness is very challenging, while forgiveness to those distant from us is easier because it is not so “personal.” Over a lifetime it is not the unkind words and actions of those that don’t know us well that linger and sting.  Afterall, we rationalize that they don’t really know us.  No, it is only a close friend or family member who can really sink the dagger deep into our soul.  And while the Savior was speaking more about the characteristic of love to the multitude, forgiveness is closely tied to it.

If you have been married for any length of time you will encounter a moment when something that your spouse does or says is hurtful. In fact, such encounters are a normal part of any marriage.  I’m sure that scarcely a week goes by that I don’t say or do something that is, or can be perceived as being thoughtless towards my wife. I think I am getter better at being a good husband and that my offensive occurrences are shrinking by the year. Still, I’m a work in progress as is she. Surely the Lord’s admonition to bless and pray for our enemies applies towards our spouses, friends, and loved ones when they offend us.

The Savior also admonished us to “do good to them that hate us”. From my experience, I have learned that it is very difficult to hate someone who loves you.  I recall the story of the woman who was on the verge of divorcing her husband. She alone sought counseling. After venting her pent-up frustration to her therapist regarding her mate, she was given some outstanding advice. “If you really want to get him,” she was told, “Go home and for the next month be the best wife you can be, just so he will see what he is going to be missing when you leave him.” “Yes,” relied the woman, “Yes, that will really teach him a lesson.”  She left that office never to return as her attitude and changed behavior ending up healing their marriage.

All of us offend and are in need of love and forgiveness. I don’t think the Savior’s commandment to love our enemies meant that we should let others continually abuse us, but I think his charge to have an open and loving heart towards those that do,  will have  a healing power in our relationships with our enemies, and certainly with our loved ones.

Holding hatred, anger and bitterness in our souls is a recipe for an unfulfilling and miserable life. We need to forgive,  and if at all possible, let go of negative attitudes that are non-productive to our lives. Let us replace them with characteristics of  words suggested by the Savior, that of “love, bless, do good and pray for.” By so doing, we will, as He stated,  ‘become the children of our Father.’ (Matthew 5:45)


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