Love and Forgiveness

Is possible to love and forgive people who hurt you and are enemies? Do you have to maintain a relationship with people who are enemies in order to love and forgive them?

Love and relationship are two separate things. A relationship is built on love but love doesn’t require a relationship. It is possible to love someone whom you have no relationship with simply because love is an action. Love is the action of doing right by others. Treating others like you want to be treated (Matt 7:12). This is why Jesus said to love our enemies in Matt 5:43-48. He explains that any unsaved person can love their friends but loving your enemies makes you like God. Jesus said if you are truly God’s children you must act like him and love your enemies. 1 John 4:7-8 and 19-21 both say that if you claim to love God but don’t love your neighbor then you don’t really love God, this is because love comes from God through his spirit. When someone is an enemy that means there is no relationship. Yet we are commanded to love those people anyway.

Just like love has nothing to do with relationships, forgiveness doesn’t either. Jesus also said God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others (Matt 6:14-15, Mark 11:25-26). That means you don’t need to be in a relationship with someone to forgive them, the act of forgiveness is for you to move on and be free. You don’t have to let them back into your life, you don’t have to have a relationship with them again. Those things have to be earned through trust and reconciliation. Forgiveness however is an act of love, and a true act of love is not based on feelings or circumstances but rather it is simply acting like God. Lastly, in Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to Love God and Love your neighbor. Jesus said in John 14:15 that if you love me you will keep my commandments. This is confirmed in 1 John 4:7-8 which says you can’t love God if you don’t love your neighbor. That is because if he commands us to love our neighbor and we don’t do it, then we are rejecting his commands, which means we don’t love him.