“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 makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 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? You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.”
Wow. What a teaching that we need to remind ourselves of continually. I just want you to think right now of someone who might be labeled your enemy. Someone who when you think of this person or this group of people, you have negative thoughts, you have adversarial thoughts. You are prone to even want them to not do well. There’s so many different types of people, groups of people that may come to your mind. It could be very localized like someone that you have been close to. It could be someone who’s a public figure that you’re not necessarily close to. It could be someone in your immediate vicinity. It could be someone far from you.
We realize that in our sin we were enemies with God. We rejoice that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Lord, help us to love our enemies.
When you think about the nations, as we pray for the nations, are there any people that come to your mind in the world, any groups of people that you’re prone to put in the category of the enemy? Jesus says crystal clear to you and me right now, love them. Love them and pray for them. I want to lead us to do that. I just want you to picture any person, any group of people, any number of people that might be classified as enemy in your life as we pray right now. God, we lift up the individuals, the groups, the types of people coming to our mind right now. Even when we think about specifically, just like you said, those who are persecuting Christians, God, we pray for all of these people that come to our mind right now. We pray for your mercy upon them.
God, we pray for their good, and we know that what is good is for them to be in right relationship with you, so God we pray for that right now. We pray for any and every person that’s coming to our mind right now, group of people, type of people. God, we pray for your mercy upon them and that you would bring them into right relationship with you. God, we pray for that. We pray for their good. We pray for their good and we pray you’ll help us to live for their good. Help us to love them. Like you love your enemies, God, even as we’re praying like this, we realize that in our sin, we were your enemies. That we had set ourselves up as your enemies, opposed to you and your word and your ways, running from you, rebelling against you and you loved us.
Jesus, we praise you for dying on a cross for your enemies, for paying the price for the sins of those who were crucifying you on a cross. Oh, glory be to your name for supernatural, otherworldly love for us, for me, for every one of us listening to this right now. God we pray that by your grace in us, by the power of your love in us, you would help us to love like this. Help us to love our enemies. Help us to pray for those who persecute us, who seek harm against us. In this way, make us the unique people you’ve called us to be. Don’t let us be like the world hating our enemies and loving our neighbors. God help us to love our neighbors and our enemies as ourselves in a way that reflects your supernatural love, not just for us, but for our enemies. Jesus teach us, help us to love like this we pray in your name, amen.