The answer is, “Just like Jesus did.” Thus, as is most things asked from the believer, the fulfillment is beyond the accomplishment of our flesh, the limits of our emotions and the best of our reasoning.
We know it was God’s love that sent Jesus into a hostile world to purchase the salvation of those who hated Him (John 3:16).
The Apostle Paul picked up the theme of God’s love for us in the demonstration of Jesus’ love in Romans 5:6-8. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The sentiment in this was that Jesus showed His greatest gift of love to the most hateful men during His most painful moments.
Consider that Jesus had been whipped, his beard pulled from his face, beaten with a staff and ridiculed. About 700 years earlier, the prophet Isaiah foretold the demeanor of the Messiah when He was afflicted. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7.
Please keep in mind that the Jewish writer, Josephus, reports there were thousands of crucifixion between the years 6 BC to 4 AD. The goal of the Roman officials was for every person to see a crucifixion as a deterrent to rebellion. So those Roman soldier had seen many people go to death by the cross.
Mark 15 records the reaction of Jesus’ death in the eyes of a Roman centurion. “And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” Verse 39.
The truth is, in Jesus’ worst possible moment, He loved His enemies. That difference, as observed by a professional executioner, was a testimony to the love of God. It should motivate us to love our enemies in our worst possible moments. But that knowledge and observation does not empower us.
How to love those who hate us is accomplished as is everything that counts as righteousness in our lives. It must be through a complete dependency upon God to love them through us.
Jesus had already said, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 5:30.
Those people who hate us are gifts and provide us with the greatest opportunities to allow Christ to live through us the most. No wonder James instructed us to “Count it as joy…” James 1:2.