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Love Your Enemies

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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"But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!"

Matthew 5:44

This is one of the most famous of Jesus' commands . . . and one of the hardest to obey. It's hard enough to love those for whom we feel strong affection. So now we're to love those whom we find it natural to hate? We're to pray for those who mistreat us?

Jesus' unprecedented call to love one's enemies surely scandalized many in his own day. Many Jewish groups in the first-century A.D. called for hatred of the enemies of Israel. How easy it would have been for people to hate the sometimes brutal and always demanding Romans. Yet Jesus confronted this natural inclination to hate with an unsettling call to love even one's enemies.

To love such people doesn't mean to feel all sorts of warm fuzzies for them. It means to treat them with unwarranted kindness, even to pray for their well-being. In this way, Jesus said, his followers would be imitating God's own astounding graciousness.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Who are the people in your life whom you dislike? Who are the people who have wronged you? Have you done anything to love them? Have you prayed for them? Whom among your "enemies" could you love today?

PRAYER: Lord, I've got to be honest with you (not that I could fool you otherwise!). There's a part of me that wants to get away from this chapter of Matthew. Your demands seem so hard, or even impossible. I don't fancy being challenged like this. You know that.

Yet you are my Lord, and these are your directions for me. So I will do as you say, even though I have such mixed feelings about it.

One thing I know, and that is I can't do this alone. I can't love my enemies without your help. I can't offer kindness to those who have wronged me unless your Spirit stirs within me. Thus, even as I promise to do as you say, I'm also asking you to give me the strength to do the impossible.

May I live this day according to your Word, for your glory, and by your strength. Amen.

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