“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
G K Chesterton once quipped, “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.”
And who is my neighbor? Anybody in my life – not just the folks on my street. Once again, Jesus is challenging us to take our Christianity to a whole new level. Most of us don’t describe the difficult people in our lives as “enemies”, but in effect, that is how we deal with them. It’s like one of those cage fights, if not in deed, then certainly in word or in thought.
Bitterness, which is the fruit of keeping and harboring ill will towards an “enemy”, is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy or gal to die. You are the one who is dying. So what is the antidote? Jesus says love them and pray for them. Easier said than done, right?
Keep it simple: start by praying for them. Not that they would become the person YOU want them to be, but the person God wants them to be. Pray blessings over their family, their job, and their health. Intercede on their behalf if you know of troubles or trials they are facing. If you struggling right now with an enemy, take a moment to remember Jesus at the cross:
“Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
The more you pray for the “enemies” in your life, the easier it will be to love them.
We’re told to love our enemies
Who in this life we face,
For showing love that’s not deserved
Reveals to them God’s grace. —Bosch