Matthew 5:43-44 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.
It is easy to live sent with those we love – but how do we live sent with people we hate, struggle with, or who irritates us?
As I was pondering clever ways to open this devotion, I considered using a popular clip from a movie, book, or story that everyone could relate to. I even spent twenty unsuccessful minutes searching Google before I realized there are very few modern-day examples of this high calling in Matthew 5. What Jesus asks of his followers goes against everything the world teaches us (as I saw first-hand from the minimal number of examples I could find). The calling is more than a simple anger management exercise God wants us to practice. God tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us as a calling for us to be different and set-apart from the world. Only Christians, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, can use the power of God to accomplish the incredible feat of praying for and loving our enemies. As humans, we think we can handle it, while God sits on his mighty throne and chuckles at us and our self-reliant sense of control. When we keep hate in our heart, it is as if we are trying to serve our own justice. Instead, we are called to lean on the One who holds and gives all justice. Jesus isn’t telling us we have to be best friends with the people who irritate us, He is asking us to look at them from a different perspective. God asks us to think about someone you hate, an enemy, someone who bugs you, or someone who has hurt you and see them as someone who was created in God’s image. They may have made some sinful choices or actions, but haven’t we all? And, God is the real judge of their sins. I know that living with and loving our enemies is tough and can feel like a daunting task. However, we must keep in mind that we are all children of God who have a great calling on our lives. Our main job here on earth is to show the world God’s love. Let’s let God be the just God He is and forgive and pray for those people in our lives who we struggle to be around.
Dear Lord, thank you for continually calling me to a higher ground, and to a better, more grace-filled life. Thank you for holding me accountable to your truth and your design. Thank you for putting challenging people in my life so that I can have the opportunity to love like You love. I ask that you help me see You in the people I struggle with and I ask that You help me love and forgive them the way that you love and forgive me every day. Lord help me love my enemies. I ask these things in Your Son’s precious holy name.
Written by T Tringali