Day 4: Pray For Your Enemies - Praying & Going
Day 4: Pray for Your Enemies
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
I admit it. There are days that I sometimes just want to skip over passages of the Bible. I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but I do.
I remember hearing a sermon about loving your enemies. I can’t remember if the passage was the same as the one above, but it was similar. At the time, I was working with one of the meanest and most profane people I ever knew. I couldn’t wait to get away from him.
The guy didn’t like me, something he made clear to me. I sure didn’t like him either. I probably even felt emotions of hate toward him.
Then I heard the sermon about praying for and loving your enemies. Yeah, right. If only you knew this jerk, you wouldn’t be preaching such nonsense.
Then it happened. I looked at the passage closely. Those were the words of Jesus. By discounting the sermon, I was essentially calling Jesus a liar. And who knew suffering and pain at the hands of enemies more than Jesus? No one. Absolutely no one.
Though I did not have the emotional desire to pray for my abusive coworker, I prayed for him out of reluctant obedience. I felt no immediate relief, nor did I quickly notice that my attitude improved.
Now, you may think I became friends with this profane man. Perhaps you are anticipating that this story will end with him becoming a follower of Christ through my friendship and witness.
I don’t think he became a Christian. But he eventually moved out of town. I can hope and pray he found Christ later. I never truly befriended him either. I did notice, however, that he didn’t bother me as much. In fact, I might have even been nice to him on a few occasions. Maybe he noticed.
But something else happened to me. After I prayed for my enemy, God began giving me opportunities to tell more people about Jesus. It was like my hatred and lack of forgiveness toward him was a barrier to my having an effective witness toward anyone.
Some of you reading this devotional today have been hurt or abused terribly by someone. The thought of forgiving that person seems impossible. In fact, you might not even desire to forgive them.
Would you consider praying a prayer of forgiveness out of tough obedience? You don’t have to desire it or feel it. You just need to do it.
Jesus said we could not fully serve him if we would not forgive others. “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God” (Matthew 5:23-24).
The words are convicting. And they are the words of Jesus, the One who demonstrated the ultimate act of forgiveness.