Megan Evans, Women’s Ministry Director, LHBC
Matthew 5:43-45 (ESV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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.
Do you have an enemy? At first thought you might say no. But wait a minute, do you know anyone who is hard to get along with? Do you know anyone who provokes you or likes to pick an argument with you? What about someone who just flat out lives in opposition to you or fights against your values? What do we do with these people?
We all know people like that. At times in our life we ourselves may have even been that person. As a child I can still remember my mother telling me to, “Stop antagonizing your brother & sister!” That was a really big word for a little kid, and it came with a big meaning. She was telling me to stop being the enemy-ouch!
As God extended His great love to us while we were His enemies, reconciling us to Him through Christ’s work on the cross (Romans 5:10), we are called to love our enemies and show them Jesus.
In today’s world the word “enemy” is often polarized and characterized by extremes like good versus evil, right versus wrong, and strong versus weak. However, in between polarized extremes, we see daily life. What if we look into our homes, work places, and neighborhoods? If you’ve ever had an argument, or a heart that needed to reconcile or forgive, you know this space.
Merriam-Webster defines an enemy as “one who is antagonistic to one another,” “especially seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent.” Words hurt and self-pride is opportunistic and power hungry. Isn’t it amazing how quickly a careless word can fly out of our mouth when we feel threatened? How hard we push to prove our point? How quickly a situation can be thrown into complete confusion? What do we do?
Verse 43-44 reminds us that we don’t have to imitate what we see and hear in the world. Jesus tells two things to do for our enemies to imitate his character instead:
LOVE: Ask God to soften your heart and give you a capacity to love those people who are difficult. Studying God’s character throughout the Bible shows us how to grow His love in our own heart, and the gift of the Holy Spirit empowers us to live it out. But it takes practice, and we won’t always get it right! Conflict is part of life, so the challenge remains to imitate Jesus.
PRAY: It can be hard to pray for someone you are mad at, but prayer destroys strongholds and builds relationships. The devil is our real enemy and he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that is good (John 10:10). Pray for the Holy Spirit to cultivate God’s love in you.
By extending our love and prayer to those we don’t get along with or even to those who don’t love us back, our behavior shows the world that we are a Child of God and we become a light for Jesus. Who do you need to love and pray for today?
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, thank you for loving me even when I was your enemy. Thank you for Jesus who died on the cross to reconcile me to You. Teach my heart to love others like you do, God. Grow Your character in me so I do not act like an enemy to others. Give me the desire and discipline to love and pray for my enemies. In Jesus Name, Amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.