“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45a).
“But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
Jesus had enemies…and they crucified Him. Yet, as we know, He had the ultimate victory in the end. But because God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to die, His Son did not leave the earth without praying for those who were responsible for His death. Jesus, who told us to love and pray for our enemies, demonstrated the ultimate gift of love while hanging on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a). Jesus prayed for His enemies…how can we do less?
One of the most amazing commands of Christ is to love our enemies. In our flesh, we naturally want to retaliate or fight back when we are treated unkindly or persecuted. Jesus preached forgiveness and mercy: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). His lifestyle demonstrated grace, that ours might also. He took His command one step further, adding another level of difficulty: “Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44b). Jude also spoke about the importance of mercy: “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them…” (Jude 1:22). Because of God’s mercy, we were saved. We must extend His mercy to those who are still enemies of God, so that they might also receive what we have been given.
Father, give me a heart filled with mercy so that I am able to love and pray for those who mistreat me. Give me Your grace to love them as You do, and to see them with Your eyes of compassion.
–Adapted from the article Praying for Our Enemies by Kim Butts. Click the link to read the entire article.
Praise God as the provider and sustainer of all things (Ps. 145:15-16). Give thanks for the tenderness and the care that the Lord gives to the creatures that he has made (145:8-9). Confess those times this past week when you have forgotten to look on other people or other parts of God’s world with the same love that is in God’s heart. Commit yourself to treating others with the same compassion as God does. Ask God to fill your heart with his care, concern, and tenderness.
Pray for families in which the parents are too busy to really listen and respond to their children’s needs. Ask God to help them set their priorities in line with his will for their families.
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