You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Now how can we do this? Where does power to love like this come from? Just think how astonishing this is when it appears in the real world! Could anything show the truth and power and reality of Christ more than this?
Let me just give you part of the answer from Matthew 5:11–12,
Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus says that not only can you endure the mistreatment of the enemy, but you can also rejoice in it. Why? Because your reward in heaven is great.
Which means that the command to love your enemy is a command to set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. The command to love your enemy is a command to find your hope and your satisfaction in God and his great reward—not in the way people treat you. The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life (Psalm 63:3).
Loving your enemy doesn’t earn you the reward of heaven. Treasuring the reward of heaven empowers you to love your enemy.