But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44
We have a walking path behind our house that runs through the neighborhood. On nice days all the kids in the area like to gather there and play.
On one of these days, my son came storming through the front door crying. When I asked him what was wrong he began telling me what one of the older boys had done to him. This kid was being a bully. My immediate, mama bear instinct was to go out there and give him a piece of my mind.
As I turned to go out the front door I sensed the Lord stop me to consider something…
How I respond to this situation is going to teach my son how we are to treat others when they mistreat us. At that moment I had an opportunity to teach my boy how to love his enemies.
I got down on my knees so I was eye to eye with him and said, “Buddy, before we do anything else we should pray for him”.
We are living in a time when division lurks on every corner. Remaining in a state of bitterness, indifference, and anger towards those people who we consider to be our enemies is easy.
It’s much harder to move beyond these walls and love them.
His enemies were stoning Him to death. I can not imagine the suffering and agony he endured. With his final breath, his words were an act of love towards his attackers.
Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” – Acts 7:60
The verse we are looking at in Matthew 5:44 is not a suggestion. Jesus did not say “love your enemies – if you feel like it”, “if it seems right – pray for those who persecute you”.
This verse is presented as a command.
God commands us to love our enemies. He gives this charge to His children because it’s exactly what He has done for us.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 NASB
When we are showing love and kindness towards our enemies we are acting in accordance with the very nature and character of our Father.
Also, loving the people who hate and persecute us is acting contrary to the way of the world. It sets us apart. When we continue to love those who mistreat us, we are acting peculiar. Different. It’s a way that we prove that we do not belong to this world.
Who are you struggling to love today, my friend?
I encourage you to consider Stephen and also to consider your Savior. They both loved their enemies to the point of death. Let this truth strengthen and empower you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Let’s pray together: Lord, I confess that I need your strength to help me love my enemies. My natural tendency is wanting to repay and reciprocate evil for evil. It is only by your grace and life within me that I am able to obey this command you have given to love others in this way. Help me to always keep the gospel at the forefront of my mind. To remember the price you paid for my salvation – especially in the moments that require me to love those who mistreat me. Help me to follow in your footsteps. In Jesus name, Amen.
Be sure to also read:
- What Does the Bible Say About Loving the Unlovable
- Why You Should Pray and Bless Those Who Persecute You
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Megan from Megan Allen Ministries provides tips and resources to better equip you to dig deep into God’s truth, as well as encouragement and tools to cultivate a powerful and strategic prayer life.