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 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48
Love your enemies. Three simple words that are all but simple to obey, especially in light of the tragedies that have transpired over the past couple of weeks across the globe. However, these incredibly challenging words from our Savior are like light that can pierce the darkness. These words reflect the gospel – the very nature of Christ.
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34a
When we turn on the news today we are unable to avoid images and stories of terror. Terror is designed to do one thing – to send the world into a place of deep fear. And fear, when given authority in our lives, breeds hate. Will we fall victim to its design, or will we put on the full armor of God and fight fear with faith? Will we be faithful in choosing to love and pray for the people that are behind these evil acts? Will we be faithful to pray that those who plot against so many – that they would hear and know the ONE who can truly cover their shame and that they would turn from the evil of their ways?
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
As we continue to pray earnestly for God’s Kingdom to come both here in Ohio and around the world, let us pray that God would send us into the very darkness that our human nature would rather retreat from. Let us keep the words of Jesus in front of us “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” – remembering that we too were undeserving of His love, His grace, and His mercy. But, Jesus loved us still – to the point of death on a cross.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” – Romans 5:10.
Love Your Enemies:
- This is a love that we cannot conjure up out of sheer will. We need a holy, righteous love. Pray that God would show and teach us how to love as only He can. Pray that we fully realize the depth of our own wickedness and the depth of God’s grace in our lives. Pray that God then teaches us to extend HIS grace and love to our enemies.
- Pray that God increases our faith – that it would cover any fear lurking in our hearts and minds. Pray that He would reclaim any authority in your life that you have given over to fear. Ask God to grow your faith in Him – be assured that God has not lost control when our world appears to be spiraling. He is the everlasting and His purpose will prevail. The battle has been won.
Pray for those who persecute you:
- Whether this be someone whom you’ve never seen face to face, or someone that you know well – pray for the one who means you harm. This will not be easy – but take some time to pray for those who persecute you. Pray that would experience the healing power of God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
- Pray that God would grow love and forgiveness in your heart and destroy bitterness, resentment, and hate. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Pray for those who will GO:
- Pray that God would embolden those that He has chosen to GO, despite what the world would say. Pray that He would well up inside of us the truth “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
- Pray that God would send His people into the most difficult of places. To places where few to none have access to the gospel.