You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
I was struck this morning by the fact that the statement of , “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ” was used in the context of how we treat one another. The Perfection of our Heavenly Father, is portrayed here as His impartiality. Our Father sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Our Father causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. Do I? Do we? There are always s few people in our lives that we find harder to love than others. Yes, even some believers are harder to love than unbelievers. But I realized through this Scripture this morning, that I had been forgetting a key element in this loving your enemies thing…Prayer. I have had difficult people in my past to deal with, and with one in particular, I had to work with in ministry. I was in a Bible Study at the time that taught me to pray a lot, and so I began to pray for this person. Not, “God change them,”prayers, but “prayers of blessing” toward them. As I prayed for this person regularly, God began to let me see this person through His eyes, not my own. My way of relating to them changed, so they related to me differently. Our relationship was slowly transformed from being one of dislike, to genuinely caring about one another as Heirs of God’s Grace. 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
Enemies can be anyone we perceive as a threat, real or imagined. Enemies can be anyone we have a hard time getting along with, anyone who rubs us the wrong way. They don’t have to be mortal enemies, real enemies. And the fault of the irritant isn’t necessarily theirs, it could be our own rigidness; being stuck in our own little, “My way or the highway” mode. So let’s pray for everyone who feels like an enemy right now. Pray for them to be blessed, encouraged, used by God and treasured by us. You just might be pleasantly surprised, as I have often been, to have God’s view of these Beloved Ones, change your own heart.