This study has been a "how to" type of study. Part of our discussion in loving the people we hate has been a change of thinking. As a way of getting the focus away from self and the feelings of self:
- Bless, do not curse
- Walk a mile
- Make room for God
- Never take revenge
Some have been concrete things to do, as a way of creating new and more positive and productive feelings:
- Plan something beautiful in the sight of all
- Win the peace
- Make room for God
In our last study we will discuss the final steps in learning to love our enemies, the step that requires the most doing. All these other steps have geared you up and prepared you for step #7 which usually is the one that brings you over the goal line.
Bomb Them With Love
In Romans 12:20 Paul says,
"But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."
In other words, when you want to bring your enemy into submission, bomb him with love. This is difficult, requires a swallowing of pride and a step of faith all at the same time, but it is the key move in the battle to love your enemy.
Paul gives us three steps in bombing our enemies into submission with love:
- Find a Need: He encourages us to give food or water depending on need and this is the first step, asking ourselves, "What does my enemy need?" Things, respect, space, to know they are right? Before you offer something, find out what it is they really need. Many times their actions are based on unfulfilled needs. Take the time to observe, ask if you have to. If you are not sure, pray and ask God to reveal to you what your enemy needs.
- Look at your Resources: You may not have everything your enemy needs but maybe some of the things you have can fill some of their needs. When God looked at our needs and His resources, He gave us what we needed and that was His Son. Sometimes our enemy needs what is most precious to us.
- Heap on the Good: Paul says that the doing of good will heap burning coals onto the head of our enemies. You probably will not win over the person with one act, you will eventually have to heap on a big plate full of love to win them over. The idea of burning coals is that the good you do in return for evil produces the heat of shame on your enemy. When you are ugly and spiteful and the person comes right back at you with love and kindness, do you not feel embarrassed, red faced, hot and sweaty with guilt and shame? Paul says that the bomb of love will produce the heat of shame. What he does not say, but what is implied, is that hopefully that guilt and shame will lead to repentance and reconciliation.
Bombing with love is like a bombing raid, it takes a lot of bombs to soften up the target, so do not be discouraged if you do not win the peace with just one bomb.
This is the final session on this topic, but this is not your final effort at loving someone you hate. My final words as a resource person:
- There will always be an enemy (some said they did not have any). If not this one, another who will come after. Do not be surprised or discouraged, this is part of life. Success is variable and the process is messy.
- These principles are for life. Everyone, whether they take the class or not, needs to learn and use these ideas. That you were here was a blessing, make sure you take advantage of them when you are gone.
- Sometimes you are the enemy. Try to be sensitive to the fact that there are people who struggle with you and you may not even realize it. This should make you a little less harsh and a little more eager to love your enemy when the time comes.
- What resources do you personally have to offer people who have wronged you? Open question.
- Have you ever reached a point of forgiveness with an enemy? If you have, share that experience with your group.
- On a scale of 1-10 how successful have you been in learning to love the person you came into the class hating? What is still needed for you to reach your goal?
- What has been the most beneficial thing you have learned from this class? What would the first piece of advice that you would give someone who is struggling with this problem (trying to love someone they cannot stand)?