Here are four ways you can respond to your enemies.
Pray for Them
Jesus did one of the most humanly impossible things ever when He ask, “Forgive them Father, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Can you even imagine trying to pray for someone or a group of people (like the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman guards) who were torturing you, beating you, and then crucifying you for no justifiable reason at all? That’s just what Jesus did and what He asks us to do, saying “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44b).
The Jewish religious leaders apparently hated the Romans, the Greeks, and just about anyone who wasn’t a Jew. This hate included Jesus as they sought to kill Him. They would have never prayed for their enemies. Instead, they sought to kill them, but Jesus expects more from His followers, and says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies” (Matt 5:43-44a). Remember, Jesus loved us and died for us while we were still His enemies (Rom 5:10).
Do good to Them
The Bible tells us that vengeance is God’s and so we’re not to respond to evil with evil (Rom 12:17), instead we must do what Jesus said; “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). In fact, we must go even further and whoever “strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either” (Luke 6:29).
Instead of asking God to curse someone who is insulting you and persecuting you, ask God to bless them. Is it easy? No, but we’re told to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). Really!? Bless them who curse us and abuse us? Yes, this is what Jesus demands, but this cannot be done in our own human strength. Ask for God’s help and bless your persecutors and haters, even when you don’t feel like it; I would say, especially when you don’t feel like it.
When you pray for those who persecute you, love them and do good to them that hate you, and ask God to bless those who are your persecutors, you are never more like God. Plus, it must confuse them to see us respond with godly love at their hatred toward us. Maybe our love for them while they hate us might allow the Spirit of God to penetrate their stony heart and bring them to saving faith. Wouldn’t that be amazing grace?
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman
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