Series: The Road to Humility
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Matthew 5:44 NLT
I thought he was my friend.
Fred headed the committee who recommended me as pastor for the church. I soon discovered he and I differed in our philosophies.
My visiting habits didn’t please him. In his mind, I should have visited every relative of every church member whether that person was a church member or not. I didn’t think I had time. My decision-making procedure often offended him too. No matter how small the matter, Fred thought it should come before the church at a business meeting for a vote.
The longer I stayed, the more Fred and I clashed. Although his rebukes came in a gentle way, I could feel the tension growing between us. I began dreading each Sunday and Wednesday, wondering what he’d fuss about next. When I told the board I needed a second job because we couldn’t live off what the church paid, he objected before anyone else had a chance. When he rotated off the deacon board, I breathed a sigh of relief. But things didn’t change.
Once a week, I prayed for church members. Praying for Fred taxed me. I knew I needed to—he was, after all, a brother in Christ—but knowing this didn’t make it any easier. Our relationship never improved, but on the Sunday I resigned Fred cried. Shortly after I left the church, he had a heart attack and died while shaving in front of his bathroom mirror.
Fred wasn’t the worst enemy I could have had, but our relationship reminded me enemies aren’t always non-believers. Jesus’ command to pray for them rubs against the grain of our human nature, but doing so has benefits.
Praying for our enemies changes us. My prayers for Fred didn’t change him. It did change how I viewed him. And when I heard of his death, I grieved.
When we pray for our non-believing enemies, God reminds us they don’t really hate us as a person but what we stand for. The light of Jesus Christ offends the darkness of sin.
Loving and praying for our enemies—rather than seeking revenge against them or ostracizing them—also parrots Jesus’ behavior. He prayed for those crucifying Him.
Ask God to give you the strength to pray for those who oppose you. Doing so will change how you see them.
Tweetable: Are you confronting enemy behavior?
Prayer: Father, help us see others with eyes of love, even when they oppose us.
Tell us about a time when you confronted enemy behavior.