Matthew 5:43-44, “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.’”
This has to be on the list of Jesus’ hardest commands to follow. He doesn’t say tolerate your enemy, ignore your enemy, hold your tongue around your enemy. He says to love them and pray for them. How can we even do that? How can we love people who hate us, hurt us, abuse us, or persecute us? I think the only way is to remember the grace of God in our own lives. When I look back, I remember that I was an enemy. As a kid growing up, I could be mean and hurtful to other kids. I would tease them, pick on them, and laugh at them. Through the grace of Jesus, I came to know him in a personal way and realized that even as he was dying for my sins he was being taunted, teased and mocked. I now know that I acted that way out of ignorance, out of trying to make myself feel better by putting others down. Now through his grace I have been transformed and I look to love and bless others.
We can love and pray for our enemies by remembering our own past and how we needed Jesus to save us. This gives us compassion for our enemies. Maybe they are only our enemies in response to some hurt and pain in their own lives. Instead of hating them, we can pray for them that Jesus would meet them in that deep place of hurt. Take some time now to consider anyone who may be an enemy to you. Maybe you don’t even know them personally; it could be a political leader with an opposite view, it could be a co-worker, a neighbor or even a family member. Pray for them by name. Ask God to give you a heart of compassion for them. Ask for his help to express love to them. Also take time to thank God for his grace in your own life.