“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, so 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 do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing 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
Most of us have a hard time loving our enemies. They’re our enemies because they have done something to hurt us or because they don’t like us for some reason—perhaps we have offended them. Even if we show them love, they may not reciprocate. There’s nothing in these words of Jesus that says anything about the response to our love. Our enemies can continue to hate us and to do evil toward us. Yet Jesus told us to love and pray for those who persecute us. It probably won’t change them, but it will certainly change us. If we can’t see our way clear to loving our enemies, we can pray for them. And it’s really hard to hate someone when you’re asking God to bless them.
Lord God, people have hurt me and been cruel to me, yet, when I pray for them, my unforgiveness melts away. Thank You that when I can’t love my enemy on my own power, Your Holy Spirit gives me the grace to turn anger and hostility to love. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.