Matthew 5:43 You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” 44 But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. 45 Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. 46 If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. 47 If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that? 48 But you must always act like your Father in heaven. (CEV)
I used to think loving my enemies had little to do with me; I had no real enemies, after all. However, recent events in this country have opened my eyes; I see there are people who would consider me an enemy based upon my race, cultural heritage, political leanings, opinions, or even my faith. That’s a hard pill to swallow for one who always considered herself to be one of the “good guys”.
I see people in my own circles reacting to those with differing opinions as to an enemy. I’ve seen myself avoiding people I know to be on the other side of an issue I care about, or else walking on eggshells around them, as though I’m in enemy territory.
The Scripture from Matthew 5 offers God’s remedy to this state of affairs; I am to love these enemies and to pray for them. So, how do I love someone who is antagonistic toward me, my core beliefs and mistreats me?
Most people aren’t able to manufacture emotions by the strength of will, of course, but this commandment has little to do with emotions. In this context, as in so many others, “Love” is an action word. We love our enemies by treating them with kindness, respect, and compassion, as we would have them treat us. This is completely doable.
The next step is pray for them; pray for their salvation, most of all, and for God’s will to be done in their lives. This is easy to do, even if we are hurt and angry. We are not praying for our enemy to triumph, after all.
In my distress over this election, I have recently begun to pray for all the candidates. I pray for their salvation, for them to acquire Godly wisdom and to have the courage and strength to follow God’s will in all they do.
We can apply this tactic in every situation, from disharmony in a family or disunity within a local church congregation, to national and international strife.