Often when we talk about loving our enemies, you hear the “but doesn’t that make as doormats?” objection. But I’ve been thinking about the words of 1 Peter 3:9: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called, so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Now, whatever the “blessing” is bestowed, it must be an action. It must be something you do to demonstrate love for that person. It is not being a passive doormat, not ignoring the fact that they have done something wrong. Our response to evil is to do something good. It is easy to respond to wrong by doing something wrong back, or ignoring it, or telling them why it's wrong. But to respond by loving, by doing good, that’s hard work. But that’s what the gospel calls us to do.
And it’s not just Peter who calls us to do this, Jesus says to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) Last time I checked, prayer was something that we do, with the help of God. And Paul says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Loving someone is not ignoring them, it’s about engaging them. It’s about going that extra step to demonstrate to them what gospel love is. Unconditional, in the face of evil. Hard, yes. But who said love was easy?
This is not about how we are saved. We are saved by grace, despite the fact that we do wrong. But by responding to evil with grace and love, we are demonstrating the gospel itself, in a deep and profound way. It's what God does for us, so how can we not do it for others?