"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
This is a down right tough one. Those enemies cause us undue stress and at times loss of sleep at night. In fact, we can't even fathom a glimpse in the direction of a foe let alone bring ourselves to prayer. How can you pray for someone you loath?
Daria had been divorced for 15 years. She experienced very little in terms of support and money from her ex-husband. Her sole chore each day was raising her children with little or not help. That and of course a full time job and the entire duties of a single parent. On the other hand, her ex claimed he offered her all kinds of services in help raising those boys, yet Daria felt those offerings were little more than what friends would do when someone was in need. Surely, a parent should be involved a bit more, she thought. So each night she prayed for Tim asking God to help him see the importance of spending more time with his boys.
Beth worked with a co-worker named Mary. Mary always had her talons in their boss, Bill. Where ever Bill was, Mary was usually close at hand filling his head with all the duties she thought she was doing that were making a difference at the company. In reality, these duties were mostly Beth's ideas that Mary failed to give her credit for. When a promotion came up, Mary got it hands down. Beth began to feel unappreciated and decided to keep away from Mary at all costs. Beth prayed fervently for more money and a better position in the company.
None of the girls moved milestones in their lives with those prayers. Jesus taught us the following:
- He had come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17)
- An insult is just as wrong as murder. (Matthew 5:22)
- Through the law would permit retribution, I should turn the other cheek. (Matthew 5:39)
- If someone would sue me for my dress, I should also give him my coat. (Matthew 5:40)
In Biblical times a passerby might be pressed into military service and forced to travel with them doing odd jobs like carrying equipment. This was true for Simon who was enlisted to carry the cross of Jesus. Jesus says if, "someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matthew 5:41). What he is saying is that the law is not enough. As Christians we must do more than the bottom line.
Have you felt great blessings when someone went that extra mile for you? Maybe you asked for a ride to the ER stating someone else will pick you up and that friend stayed the whole time comforting you. Or, maybe your car was in the shop and you called a colleague for a ride that day, and he said, "No problem, I can take you for the next few days too while your car is in the shop."
God wants us to do the same for our enemies as we would for our friends. He promises blessings in return. Daria decided to pray for her husband one day hoping his life would turn around and he would receive blessings. It was a hard process to put it bluntly. She did not favor this man. He had done nothing for her but give her three beautiful sons. Shortly afterwards, he began showing up at the house more giving her food by shopping for the family. He also became more available for appointments when she was unable to leave work. To top it off, he also called the boys each day to see how they are doing. At this moment Beth is still working up to that point with Mary.
Forgive me for holding back prayer for those that need
it most. I ask you to bless my enemies today. Thank you
Lord for loving me and keeping me close. Amen.