March 12

Crushing Your Enemies, Part 3

Matthew 5:43-45a “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven….”

First of all, nowhere in the Old Testament does it say to hate your enemy. If it did, Jesus would have said, “It is written….” But it wasn’t written, only taught by some. What Jesus is saying here is to extend the honored commandment to love your neighbor (which he’d already expanded to the hated Samaritans) to loving your enemies. Once we’ve reduced our enemies and forgiven them, this is the command that remains: Love them.

Happily, love is an action here, not a feeling. We are to do loving actions that reflect Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14 tells us more specifically to “Bless those who persecute us; bless and do not curse.” Matthew 5 tells us to pray for them.

How can we love and bless? We can start by praying for their greatest needs. If they don’t know the Lord, the greatest need by far is that they do. Pray for that, so that you may have another eternal brother or sister. God can do that. If your enemy is a believer and you have done all you can according to the principles of Matthew 18, then pray for their repentance, always staying humble that you might be a bigger part of the problem than you know. In both these situations, pray with the goal of blessing the other person/s, not asking God to vindicate us through what He does with them.

Prayer: Lord, by faith and with Your grace and strength, I bless those that have hurt me. I bless them in Your name and pray for their greatest needs. Bring all of us to repentance.

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