March 11

Crushing Your Enemies, Part 2

Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Once you have reduced your enemies to a real and reasonable number (see yesterday’s reading), then you can act on them. First, we resist the temptation to bring judgment upon them ourselves. Remember Romans 12:19-20: “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Get it settled in your heart and mind that you have no right to seek revenge personally. This even extends to our thought life: fantasies about revenge need to be sacrificed to the Lord as well. Leave it in His capable hands to work something redemptive as you leave your hands off of it.

That’s what we don’t do–seek revenge. What we do, first, is forgive them. Jesus, radical as ever, is our model here. In the face of the worst injustice in the history of the universe, we have the most wronged Person ever saying, “Father, forgive them.” This had to have cut across the grain of every revenge-minded person that heard it at the time, and it still challenges us to the core. But it is our call.

Some may say, “Well, that was Jesus, and He was God.” There are two answers to that. One is that Jesus left the power of His divinity in heaven and lived by the same Holy Spirit power available to us.

Two, we know that this wasn’t just a Jesus-only trait that we needn’t emulate. The first known New Testament martyr, Stephen, echoed his savior with his dying words as he was being stoned: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” Clearly, the call to forgive our enemies trumpets down through the ages, and is ours to hear and respond to just as it was for Jesus and Stephen.

The great challenge is releasing our enemies in forgiveness. As difficult as it sometimes is to say the words, “I forgive them,” it’s even harder to let them go in our hearts. Sometimes unforgiveness is our last attempt at controlling a situation that has hurt us. Sometimes it’s our last false “comfort” when we have been wrongly treated. Let God’s Spirit soak into those corners of your heart if that is the case, so that you can freely and completely release your enemies. Remember, too, that we are not releasing them into the ozone; we’re releasing them to the Lord. He can be trusted with them.

Prayer: Lord, help me to forgive my enemies from the deepest part of my heart. I release to You control over what has happened in my life, and I repent of taking any false comfort from holding them hostage in unforgiveness. You are trustworthy to receive every hurtful situation, and You are wise and powerful enough to deal with those that have hurt me. Thank you for receiving it all.