Love Your Enemies

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
–Matthew 5:44

How should we deal with our enemies? Jesus said not only are we not to retaliate against our enemies, but we are to love and even pray for our enemies. Look at Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Corrie ten Boom demonstrated that kind of love. In 1947, having been freed from the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbrück only a couple of years earlier, Corrie gave a talk in Munich about God’s love and forgiveness. After she spoke, a man approached her and extended his hand. “You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk. I was a guard in there. But since that time, I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein, will you forgive me?”

Corrie prayed for God’s help. She later described what happened: “Woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. . . . This healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’ For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”

Why are we to love that way? First of all, love makes us like God. Verses 44-45 say, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” We are never more like Jesus than when we love and pray for our enemies. Isn’t that what the Savior did on Good Friday? As He hung on the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). God calls us to that same kind of love.

Second, wanting the best for our enemies makes us different from the world. Jesus said in Matthew 5:46, “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” If you are only friendly to people who love you or people who are like you, there is no merit in that. Jesus called us to a higher standard. He summed up His teaching with these words: “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (v. 48). We are not going to hit the mark every time–not on this side of heaven–but when we pursue perfect righteousness by choosing to love our enemies, we reflect the character of God Himself.

***

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Enemies” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.

Corrie ten Boom, “Guideposts Classics: Corrie ten Boom on Forgiveness,” Guideposts, November 1972, https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/positive-living/guideposts-classics-corrie-ten-boom-on-forgiveness.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org

 

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