"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." -- Matthew 5:44 NIV
I have been writing a daily devotional for the past four years and haven't reused a verse yet, so I was surprised when I realized I had never used this verse. This is such a profound verse, but I had never written about it. I pondered why that was, loving our enemies was something Christ commanded us to do and surely something worth writing about. I think I haven't written about it because it is one of the more difficult commandments to follow. I sometimes find it difficult to love my neighbor, how can I love my enemy?
As we celebrate our country's independence, we have had many enemies over the years to whom this commandment requires us to show love. We are commanded to let go of grudges, hurts and hatred, and show love to those who have persecuted us. How do we do that when someone or some group has wronged us beyond comprehension, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 come to mind. How do we show love to those who caused so much death and destruction? So often that we can't get past the hurt and pain to even begin to try to show love to our enemies.
One thing to remember is that we can show love to someone without liking their actions or behavior. Christ and our parents are great examples of loving us even when our behavior is unlovable.
I am sure growing up that my mom didn't always like what I did or said. I bet there were times when she didn't like me, but she never stopped loving me. Just like Christ, she prayed for me even when I treated her like the enemy. I wasn't truly her enemy, but there were times when I acted like it.
Just as my mom prayed for me, the key to loving our enemies is the second part of the verse, pray for them. When we take time to truly pray for someone who has wronged us, praying for their relationship with God, for peace and understanding for them, for mercy and grace, we are loving them as Christ commanded. When we pray for our enemies and try to see them as Christ does, it helps to take away the hatred and replace it with a Christ-like love for fellow man.
How do you respond to someone who has hurt you? If you are like me, the last thing you want to do is love that person. I may pray for them, but it is often a prayer for retribution instead of a prayer for grace and mercy. It is almost impossible to show love, yet that is what Christ tells us we must do.
If you are struggling to show love towards your enemy, someone who has hurt or wronged you, if you can't find the words to pray for those who have persecuted you, ask God to help love them as He does. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray for them as Christ commanded. Let God's love for you overflow to them.
JODI HENDRICKS IS A LONG-TIME MEMBER OF FARMINGTON UNITED METHODIST CHURCH. SHE TEACHES ADULT AND YOUTH BIBLE CLASSES. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.Religion on 07/11/2018
Print Headline: The Key To Loving Our Enemies Is To Truly Pray For Them