“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Oh, man, do I have to?
Loving those who persecute us is rarely our first response when we are under fire. And if we do pray for our enemies, well let’s just say, it’s not going to be pretty if God answers the way we demand. In this section of Scripture, Jesus calls us on our actions, commanding a different attitude put in place.
Within the words found in Matthew, we find an action plan for trusting God when persecution hits home. It tells us rather than turning inward, feeling the pain of rejection, do something unexpected. Reach out in love.
Before you start to push back with all the reasons why our enemies don’t deserve this action, consider what Jesus is trying to teach us in Matthew 5:43-48. This portion of Scripture is part of a longer sermon on how to live a life according to God and His ways found in Matthew chapters 5-7. Most people know it as The Sermon on the Mount. As a kid, I thought its name was The Sermon on the Mound, and I pictured Jesus standing on a pitcher’s mound teaching the fans in the stands, but I digress. The point in Matthew 5:44, where Jesus is talking about loving rather than hating our enemies, we are being called to a better way of living, one that is quite the opposite of what our human nature dictates and the world approves. It is one that will allow us to grow up to be more like our heavenly Father.
Where does it start?
Prayer. The more time we spend in communication with God, the more time He has to infuse us with His nature. Meeting with God often changes our perspective about things when revealed in the light of His glory. And the world is taken by surprise when we respond in love instead of hate, show concern rather than contempt. Where the enemy meant to bring destruction, the opposite occurs. And the world is changed for the better.
“You have heard that it is said, ‘Love your friends; hate your enemies.” But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven.”Jesus, Matthew 5:41-48
Something to Ponder
What would happen in your life if your first response to persecution was a prayer of concern for the persecutor?
See For Yourself
Learn more about what Jesus teaches about how to live well. See the entire Sermon on the Mount here.