43 “You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor [Leviticus 19:18] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you 45 so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
How did Pastor Burton move forward after 20 years of unfair detention? He lived into the gritty realities of what Jesus taught about tragedy or suffering. Jesus was not much concerned with assigning blame for the bad things that happen in life, but rather with bringing healing. He told his followers that God doesn’t send bad things into our lives, but rather finds ways to redeem even those when they happen.
Lord Jesus, hate is so tempting—and, in the end, so destructive to your purposes for my life. Teach me more each day about how to love and pray for even my enemies. Amen.
* Adam Hamilton, Why? Making Sense of God’s Will. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011, p. 20.
We are told to love our neighbors, and while there are times that our neighbors may irritate us a bit and leave us a little annoyed, most of the time we are dealing with people who are much like us. Our neighbors typically have similar social and economic levels. It’s easy to like people who remind us of ourselves.
The challenge comes not in loving our neighbors, but in the next part of Scripture which asks that we also love and pray for our enemies. After all, there is some reason that these are our enemies; something, real or imagined, has happened to make us not like these people.
How are we to love and pray for those we don’t like? And why would we want to? It’s much easier to focus on how those we don’t care for have wronged us. It’s easier to hold onto anger and frustration than to look at those who we don’t like and want to pray for them.
Yet, the Scripture is clear: “love your enemies and pray for those who harass you.” As with many other parts of Scripture, we aren’t called to do what’s easy, we are called to do what’s right. So let’s begin today, not just a fleeting “God bless people I don’t like,” but an earnest effort to live into the Scripture by praying specifically for those we don’t hold in the highest esteem. Let’s call our enemies by name and ask God’s blessing on them. For it is in loving each and every one of His people that we are acting like His children.
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