But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
Easier said than done right? Usually when we 'love our enemies' what we really do is just say that we love them.. If we truly loved our enemies we would be happy for them when good things happened.. In fact, we would want good things to happen to them.. We wouldn't say negative or hurtful things about them, we wouldn't be envious or impatient with them.. We would be kind to them to their face, and behind their back..
But instead, we say stupid things like "I love them with the love of the Lord" or "I love them because God loves them".. But we don't.. We don't love them.. We don't even like them.. Even worse, often we don't even try to pretend that we love them..
The point of Matthew 5:44 is very simple.. If we were truly obedient to God, if we really did love our enemies, and prayed for them like the Bible tells us to, they wouldn't even be our enemies..
One of my goals for 2013 is to make a real effort to love others.. Everyone, not just people I already like..
But how to do that? Well,it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be once I realized that loving our enemies isn't for the benefit of our enemies, but for ourselves..
Let me tell you about Dan (not his real name)..
Dan is unable to let go of the past.. He dwells on his negative feelings for me because he refuses to just let go and move on, his negativity festers and spreads to those closest to him.. After all this time it has become obvious to the people around him that despite the bravado that he displays, he is a very insecure person with wounds that go pretty deep.. Wounds that he is unwilling to bring to the surface, deal with, forgive, and eventually get over..
So I had a choice to make.. I could be angry and lash out or I could feel sorry for him.. Neither of those were very good choices, but for a while I chose anger.. My anger was not helping me in any way, in fact I was allowing myself to remain in bondage to it.. I was not free.. I wasn't free and I wasn't happy..
But a few months ago my friend Tina presented me with another choice.. One I hadn't considered even though I had read it in the Bible about a bazillion times..
Tina told me about a coworker of hers that really rubbed her the wrong way.. She told me that she had decided to pray good things for this coworker every time her coworker did or said anything that annoyed her.. And after a while Tina began to notice a difference, both in the coworker and how she felt about her..
Wow! What a concept! I could pray good things for Dan! I mean really good things.. Not just empty prayers like "Lord please bless them" blah blah blah..
So I did that.. Every time I heard Dan's name, every time I thought about him, every time someone would call me and tell me about his latest rant toward me or a member of my family; I would pray the 20th Psalm for him.. I changed the words a little but it's still the same concept:
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the Lord protect you.
May He send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May He give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May you shout for joy over your victory.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
And then I pray:
I pray for freedom for you;
rest, provision, inspiration,
I pray blessings for you, for your happiness;
for wealth, healing, peace, clarity, and joy.
I didn't mean it at first, but I prayed it.. After a while I realized that I kind of did mean it.. Then I really meant it.. Now I absolutely mean it.. I honestly have no ill will toward him at all now.. In fact, I genuinely want good things for him.. Truly!
I don't know if my prayers have done him any good, but they have done amazing things for me.. You see, I have decided that I am only going to have one enemy.. The enemy.. No one else gets to be my enemy.. Not even if they want to be.. I simply won't let them.. No one can make me angry, no one can make me unhappy.. Those are decisions I make myself.. I can chose to fight back, or I can chose to be the bigger person, turn the other cheek and be obedient.. I can chose anger, or I can chose love..
Sometimes love is harder at first but believe me, it's soo worth it! Once you get over needing to have the last word, or having to be right, or caring what others think about you, or if they believe the rumors or not.. Once you realize that none of that matters, it will make you happier.. Honest!