“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father 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.Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV)
The New Testament is chockful of admonitions to love our enemies, render unto Caesar, and other counter-intuitive advice about our dealings with “those who spitefully use” us. There is a temptation to read Christ’s words and sort of shake our heads. Sure, it is easy for an all-powerful, all-loving God to extend such grace to enemies, but He can’t really expect me to do the same. Can He?
Especially is these days of charges of incompetence and corruption at all levels of government, it is easy to feel contempt for those in authority. Surely Jesus understands that these are extraordinary times and His words no longer apply to us. It must have been easier for the first century Christians to pray for their Roman rulers … or perhaps not. In any case, why would Our Lord tell us to pray for those who abuse us?
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV)
When reading the above verses from Paul’s letter to Timothy, I finally got it. God our Savior, desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
What a quiet and peaceable life we would live if every leader, everyone in authority, were saved and lived in godliness and reverence.
We can freely give thanks for those God places in authority over us, knowing that He has a plan to use them, and we can pray wholeheartedly for their salvation, especially when they are behaving badly toward us.
We aren’t praying for them to prosper in abusing their authority; we are praying for them to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved.