A Prayer to Love Our Enemies
By Lynette Kittle
"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" – Matthew 5:44
Have you ever been hated? If so, you're in good company because Jesus was perfect, yet He had those who hated Him to the extent of wanting Him dead. More concern should be if the world loves us because it's a sign we most likely aren't living our lives for God. As John 15:19 explains, it's better to be hated by the world than loved. "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."
Most often, enemies come not by our choice, and usually, there isn't anything we can do to change their attitude towards us. It's birthed within their hearts and has to be extracted from the inside out. Sadly, it sometimes comes from within our own families who hate us because of our faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:36).
In these situations, how do we forgive those who hate us, much less love them? Often, we say we forgive, yet we don't feel it, and we certainly don't feel love for them. So, what do we do in these circumstances? How do we get past unforgiving and loveless feelings?
It seems the call to love our enemies is misunderstood because the secular world has reduced love down to a feeling. But real love goes much deeper and often isn't a warm, fuzzy feeling. Real love is expressed through actions, which really are louder than words. Genuine love bypasses emotions and chooses to pray, do good, give, and even sacrifice for those who hate us. So if void of forgiving and loving feelings, how do we love our enemies with actions? Following are four ways to begin.
1. Pray for our enemies. As Matthew 5:44 urges, loving our enemies begins with prayer.
2. Do good for our enemies. Good may just start by not talking badly about them to others, along with making no effort to harm them in return. Like Luke 6:27 encourages, "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you."
3. Give to our enemies. Although they may not want us to give to them, even so, our responsibility is only to give. If they refuse or discard what we offer, we've have fulfilled our part. Proverbs 25:21 urges, "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink."
4. Sacrifice for our enemies. Being kind and generous to someone who hates us is living sacrificially, it's risky knowing if we receive anything in return it most likely will be more rejection and disdain from them.
Yet Luke 6:35, encourages, "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."
Help me to love my enemies. Forgive me for any and all bad feelings and thoughts I may have had towards them. "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin" (Psalm 51:2). Although my heart doesn't feel like offering forgiveness or extending love I want to follow Your leading and calling in my life to do so, and to go beyond my own feelings and emotions in this situation. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).
Send Your Spirit, Father to move upon my heart and motivate me to show loving kindness towards those who hate me. Like Jesus said on the cross, help me to say, too, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Thank you, Father, for the comfort of knowing blessing comes through being hated, insulted, and rejected by others for Your name sake (Luke 6:22). Also, for the promise that those who are hated for your name's sake and stand firm in Your love will be saved in the end (Matthew 10:22).
Help me to follow Your example in praying, doing good, giving, and sacrificing for my enemies.
In Jesus' name, Amen
Photo credit: ©SalemDesign/BethanyPyle
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today's Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
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