“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.” (Matthew 5:43,44)
All I need to write for this post is two words: DO THIS!
In all the places we’ve lived, we’ve been blessed with having (mostly) good neighbors. It’s easy to love them in ways that range from bringing in their garbage bins when they’re away to meeting a tangible need they may have. But loving your enemy and praying for someone who is deliberately out to hurt you is a different game altogether.
How do persecuted believers in countries antagonistic to Christianity feel about this verse, whose neighbors watch with the intent to have them put in jail? How does our co-worker feel about this, whose neighbor turned him in and his home was bombed because he’s a Christian? How does my sweet young friend Ana feel about this, when her mother-in-law beats her for not washing the floor properly?
It’s impossible for a normal human being to love their enemies – except for God’s help. No matter how hard it seems, you can love those who have hurt or wronged you for the simple reason that if it was not possible then God would not command us to do it. It’s possible, but by no means easy. When they cheat us, lie to us, steal from us, slander us, and hurt us or our loved ones, we’re supposed to love them and pray for them.
There were two instances where I’ve done what Jesus says here to do – in both cases the “enemy” status of one, and deliberate bullying by the other went on for years, not just a few weeks, so I had plenty of time to obey Him in this (or not obey). When I did – grudgingly at first – put these verses into action, although the other person’s attitude and behaviour never changed, I changed.
So when I say, DO THIS, I mean it. It’s not only for the other person’s benefit but it is for your benefit as well. It will transform you and bless you as you pray into their lives and bring God’s kingdom to earth.
Praying for those who persecute you:
Find a Bible verse you can pray for this person. For example I pray from Colossians 1:9-10, that “they would come to a knowledge of Christ that would transform their lives”. This I can pray with a sincere heart.
Loving your enemy:
For more ideas go to a blog by: Dr David Goetsch, February 27, 2021
Refuse to gloat or criticize when someone who has treated you badly finds themselves in trouble.
Refuse to participate in gossip about people, even those who have behaved like an enemy toward you.
Rejoice in and celebrate the successes and good fortune of this person, even if they have treated you badly in the past. Showing grace to people who know they don’t deserve it will show them the face of Christ.
Prayer of Response:
Lord Jesus, I can’t do this on my own. Create in me a new heart toward this person. Show me how to love them, enable me to do it, and may Your kingdom come into this situation
—Submitted by Audrey Jose
Audrey has served with Lifesprings from the very start, and is the Team Leader for Lifesprings’ conflict training. She and her husband are involved in church planting and offer coaching, expertise and opportunities worldwide for mission and church partnerships through Radstock Ministries (www.radstock.org)).