The measure of one’s love is not seen in the way he loves his friends, but in the way he loves his enemies. Jesus said: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Mat. 5:43-48).
It is easy for us to love and look after those who like us, hold the same beliefs as us, and live after the same manner we do. It is far more difficult to love the one who despises all for which you stand, loves the things against which you must speak, and shows disdain and disrespect for you, your family, your beliefs, and your God. This does not mean we overlook their errors and do not try to teach them the truth; nor does it mean we treat them with hatred and indignity because “that is what they deserve.”
Remember, this is the measure of our love and also the standard of our godliness (lit. God-likeness). For Paul wrote, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God loved us while we were working against his purposes. He sent Jesus to a world the Savior had made, knowing they would reject him and by that rejection redemption would be possible.
You see, God has already illustrated, in the greatest way possible, the principle Jesus described. Therefore, it behooves us in our desire to become more like our God in loving what he loves, loving whom he loves, and exhibiting that love daily, to understand and apply this amazing command. For the man who can love his enemies will never have any trouble showing love for his friends.