“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. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” —Matthew 5:43-46
I have to admit that my co-worker and I have a hard time getting along. She and I have very different personalities, and we find it difficult to understand each other. On some issues at the office, we find ourselves as opponents, not colleagues. Some unkind words have been said, and, as a result, there is friction. Though we are outwardly polite, underneath is often a feeling of tension.
The situation has not been easy for me to deal with. Daily contact with a person who has sometimes treated me unfairly (in my estimation) and has spoken ill of me to others is not pleasant. From time to time we have attempted to talk things out, but so far that has only worsened the situation.
For a while resentment built up in my heart. Though outwardly polite, I inwardly nurtured a dislike of my co-worker and daily reviewed a list of grievances. Though I prayed for my co-worker and myself, I was at a loss for what to do. Should I be aggressive and accusing? Should I stuff down my feelings and pretend everything was okay?
Then I read this: “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
Those words leaped off the page. I instantly prayed: “Lord, take away my resentful heart. Teach me how to instruct gently, without anger or condescension. Use me in any way you wish to lead my co-worker to a knowledge of the truth that you are real and that you love her.”
God answered my prayer quickly. He somehow took the sting of resentment from within my heart (what a miracle the working of the Spirit is!). Nothing has changed in the way my co-worker treats me, but I have a spirit of love and gentleness that was not there before. I no longer feel threatened by my co-worker. Instead, I have a sense of expectation that God will continue to work in both her and me.
I am waiting for the Spirit’s opportunity and prompting, and I will continue to pray for peace in our relationship. I am looking for ways to care for her. God has a plan for his people: to show that he loves all people, even the unjust and the unkind. In order to be mirror images of Jesus, we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. For a graphic example of this kind of love, simply look at Jesus on the cross.
Who in your life has become an irritant, an opponent, someone who seems to be out to get you? Have you asked God to send his sunshine into that person’s life? Have you asked God to pour his love into your heart? When you do this, miracles begin to happen.
Prayer Starters for Praying Matthew 5:43-46
- Praise God for his loving-kindness, which is poured out on believers and unbelievers alike.
- Ask God to show you any times when your love and kindness may have been limited to those who have been loving toward you. Confess those shortcomings, and seek God’s forgiveness, remembering also to forgive others who have wronged you (Matthew 6:14-15).
- Thank Jesus for the example he gave of loving his enemies and commit yourself to following his example.
–Adapted from Be Jesus in Your Neighborhood (Developing a Prayer, Care, Share Lifestyle in 30 Days) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God as the giver of every good and perfect gift (Jas. 1:5, 17). Give thanks for the indescribable gift of his only Son. Confess any times when you have taken God’s gifts to you for granted. Commit yourself to searching Scripture for more knowledge of the “riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Eph. 1:7-8). Ask that your heart’s thirst be quenched and your soul’s hunger be satisfied in God as with the richest of foods (Psalm 63).
Pray that your congregation may have faith that “you will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion” (2 Cor. 9:11).
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