‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you…Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.’ (Luke 6:27-28, 35)
Praying for our friends isn’t that great a burden really, is it? Sure, we might forget to pray for them as much as we would like; but at the end of the day, it is no great hardship to pray for God’s blessing on those that we love. ‘Ah!’ says Jesus. ‘Then now it’s time to move on and to bless those you don’t love, those who are your enemies!’
Our enemies? Yes! That’s exactly what the Bible tells us to do. Even in the Old Testament, which so many people think of as being ‘harsh’ in comparison to the New, God’s people are commanded, ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord’ (Leviticus 19:18). The book of Proverbs, full of God’s wise ways for living, says, ‘Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you’ (Proverbs 20:22), and ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you’ (Proverbs 25:21-22). If this is the high standard set under the Old Covenant, then it shouldn’t surprise us to find Jesus setting the standard even higher for those who are his followers and who are filled with his Spirit!
But why should we live like this? Why should we even pray for those who oppose us, let alone do good to them? Because when we do, we are reflecting the character of our compassionate God and so are giving him opportunity to deal with people in his own way. Moreover, doing things this way carries God’s commanded blessing for us!
So, has someone been opposing you, or speaking against you or trying to undermine you? If so, let go of your resentment and hostility and start to pray for God to bless them. Then be ready for things to change!
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont