When you read, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44) how do you respond? Are you an easygoing person? Do you think you have no enemies?
You don’t have to be paranoid. You don’t have to imagine a vast conspiracy. Just ask yourself, have you been angry, irritated, put out, or disaffected with someone? Have you ever felt you have been wronged, even by someone you love? Then perhaps this pertains to you.
“But I don’t consider them my enemy – I just think they’re wrong,” you say.
Perhaps. However let’s consider that if Jesus wants us to pray for those who persecute us, how much more then should we pray for those whom we love, but are in disagreement with. If you are in an oppositional stance with someone, then for that moment they are your adversary, your enemy. To have an enemy is not to mean that you want the enemy destroyed, but rather to have the enemy defeated and yourself vindicated.
Have you argued with your spouse, sibling, or parents?
Have you thought your boss was quite unfair in some assignments she made?
Did you think your teacher wrongly doled out discipline to you?
Has it come back to you that a friend has said some unkind words behind your back?
They are your adversary, then.
How do you respond?
Perhaps you need to pray for them.
By “pray for them” I do NOT mean pray that they change their mind, pray that they see the error of their ways, or pray that they would come to their senses. When in a state of opposition, we’re often angry, hurt, upset, bemused, wrathful, wounded, or just plain weary.
I have concluded that when I feel that way, I shouldn’t trust my emotions or my judgment.
But I should trust the word of God.
And so, when I find myself obsessing about being wronged, I pray these scriptures for the person with whom I am in opposition (note these are not exact quotes):
- I pray that they might know the height and breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19)
- I pray that they might grow in the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
- I pray that God may make them worthy of his calling and by his power he may bring to fruition their every desire for goodness and their every good deed prompted by faith. (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
- I pray that God would fill them with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that they may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that they may have great endurance and patience. (Colossians 1:9-11)
You get the idea. Take the prayers of scripture and pray them over those with whom you are in opposition.
And God will do interesting things in you. He may soften your heart toward the other person. God might release you from obsessing about the other person. You just might find Him strengthening your faith through this time of opposition.
Soli Deo Gloria