“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
Love My Enemies
That hasn’t always been my first reaction. What hasn’t always been your first reaction? Loving my enemies and praying for those who persecute me has not always been my first reaction. What has been your first reaction to your enemies and to those who persecute you? I have wanted to defend myself. I have wanted to strike back. I have wanted to get even. I have wanted to put others in their place. I wanted to set the record straight. How has that approach worked out for you? Not well, it has left me in constant turmoil and ongoing conflict. It has made me to be a very poor, probably nonexistent, witness for you. Why is that? Getting even, striking back, responding with hate to hate is nothing like the way that you lived. With such an attitude in me and with such a response from me, others will never see your life being lived in and through me. No, they will not.
That was then, that was the past, what about now? How are you responding to your enemies and to those who persecute you now? First of all, now I would have a hard time identifying someone that I would call my enemy. Now, I don’t feel like anyone is persecuting me. Something must have changed. Tell me what has changed? You have been changing my heart. You have been transforming my mind. You have been guiding my life. You have been helping me to be more like you. You have been helping me to pray for those who mistreat me. What has happened to you as you have loved and prayed for others? The more I love and pray for others, the more I love and care for them. It’s like you are giving me your heart for people. It’s like, you are helping me to love like you loved. That is exactly what I am doing in and through you. Well, I welcome that work of yours in me. What has been the result of you loving others with my love? Some have come to know and love you through your life being lived out in and through me. Some former enemies I can now count as my friends. More importantly, I have been able to be your witness in the world. I have been able to bear fruit for your kingdom and bring glory to your name. That is very good.
Lord, I want to love like you loved. You loved everyone. You loved your enemies. You prayed for those who persecuted you. You loved me even when I was living as your enemy. Change my heart. Make me to be like you. Help me to love and pray for my enemies. Amen
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