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Love & Pray for Your Enemies

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Do Hard Things

Love and Pray for Your Enemies

How much time do I spend praying for those who have wronged me?
I asked myself this question and came to the conclusion not much. We in America don’t often have what you would call an enemy. In the OT Goliath and the Philistines would be considered enemies. Enemy is defined as
ENEMY: Someone who hates another and wishes them bodily harm.
I don’t know anyone that wishes me bodily harm but I do know that all over the world there are Christians that do. India in fact is the 11th most persecuted country in the world. I don’t have a reference point to try and imagine what it must be like to try and love some one that has threatened you and wishes you dead. Or to sit in your home knowing that a death squad can show up at any moment asking you to deny Christ and yet Christ calls us to Love and Pray for that person. But isn’t that what Jesus did after they beat him.
Luke 23:34 ESV
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
And Stephen when they were hurling stones at him he said this.
Acts 7:60 ESV
And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
I don’t have a reference point for that kind of hatred.
I do remember a time at work when I had a horrible manager. It wasn’t just me everyone had issues him. Even though my prayers were often filled with my own desires for him to be relieved from his position which really is a selfish position in a sense. I know it did help. I can remember times that his response to situations that I prayed about went differently than expected. But still why do we have such a hard time loving and praying for those people we don’t like. Or maybe it’s just me.
This text, in the Sermon on the Mount is part of a theme in which Jesus is speaking of his fulfilment of the law (v17). He talks about Anger, Lust, Divorce, Oaths, Retaliation and finally Love Your Enemies. Jesus says
Matthew 5:43–44 ESV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Most of what Jesus did and said is counter cultural the normal behavior would be to draw close to your friends and those that you have commonality with and distance yourself from those that are opposed to you. But ask yourself another question.
How does God see me when I have wronged Him?
How would I want God to respond to me when I don’tdeserve His love?
“While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” Rom. 5:10
Romans 5:10 ESV
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
You see God saw us as enemies but he still acted lovingly towards us and offered up his Son life for ours. God is not asking us to do any more than he does not do himself. He wants us to be more like him and to see people the way he sees them. By praying for our enemies it breaks down barriers in our heart and is an antidote for a negative attitude that we may have towards others.
Jesus challenges us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
After Challenging us, Jesus gives us three reasons why this is so important.
Luke 23:34, Acts 7:60, Rom. 5:10

1 - A Mark of Maturity

Matthew 5:45 ESV
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
What God is looking for is for us to be the sons that we are. The text says “your Father” not “the Father”. Jesus is telling us to be the sons and daughters that we are. To fulfil our roll is to Love and Pray for our enemies. We need to act like sons of the Father to be conformed to the image of his Son.
Romans 8:29 ESV
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
He already has chosen those in Christ, you and I to conform to the image of his Son. To be like him to see people like he sees them and to love like he loves. God chooses to work thru his people, thru their faith and actions. We are his instruments or vessels to help carry out his will on earth. Not only is Loving and Praying for your enemies an act of Maturity it also(NEXT SLIDE) Emulates God.
Matt 5:45, Rom 8:29

2 - It Emulates God

Matthew 5:45 ESV
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
I notice how my children interact with each other when something has gone wrong. What happens when one child wrongs another even if it’s an accident? There is a barrier that is created there that I see melt away with just a simple hug and I am sorry. It’s that act of Love that tears down the wall that was built by the offense. If left unsettled can lead to animosity and bitterness. This is the kind or reaction that Jesus does not want us to have towards our enemies. In the latter part of v45 indicates that our love can create a climate of blessing much like the sunshine and the rain that God sends to everyone. So should our Love and Prayers be, We should be open to pray for everyone under the sun. It is what we were made for.
1 Peter 2:9–12 ESV
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
It seems so backwards I know and but we need to fight against it. We need to fight the urge to ignore or let it go or to judge. We should retaliate when we are offended but with love and prayer so that we may glorify God and act honorably as a holy nation.
Matt 5:45, 1Pet 2:9-12

3 - A Testimony

Matthew 5:46–47 ESV
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
What kind of a testimony do you have if you only show love and pray for yourself, family and friends?
If we don’t ever challenge the thinking of the day what impact can we hope to have. Jesus is talking about loving and praying but isn’t also the loving thing to do for you enemy is to tell him that he has a God that loves him unconditionally.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
1 Peter 3:15 ESV
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
If we only love, encourage and pray for our own families and friends how can we hope to have an impact on the culture. I am completely guilty if this myself I didn’t want to pray for my managers success but for his removal. Someone ran over my tool cart at work with a forklift and never said a word to me, my first thought I can assure you was not to show him loving kindness or to pray for him. We need to pray for those that we don’t want to pray for we need to over come our own issues and love people that we don’t want to love especially if they don’t love us. We need to see people as God sees them and love them like God loves them. It’s hard, but God has called us to do hard things. It is a part of our growth process and it add to our depth of character and testimony. It’s how God perfects us thru growth.
Matt. 5:46-47, John 3:16, 1Pet 3:15

Perfection Thru Growth

Matthew 5:48 ESV
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Don’t be scared off by this verse it really is encouraging. The New Bible Dictionary puts it this way.
God means those who through faith enjoy fellowship with him to grow from spiritual infancy to a maturity (perfection) in which they will lack nothing of the full stature of Christ, in whose likeness they are being renewed (Col. 3:10). The New Bible Dictionary
The New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition b. God’s Work of Grace in Man

The Bible speaks of God’s perfecting of his people in the image of Christ. God means those who through faith enjoy fellowship with him to grow from spiritual infancy to a maturity (perfection) in which they will lack nothing of the full stature of Christ, in whose likeness they are being renewed (Col. 3:10).

Colossians 3:10 ESV
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
You see this is all a part of God’s loving plan to grow us to maturity, to renew us after His image. He not only loves us enough to redeem us and call us but also renew us. He is with us every step of the way way just need to have faith enough to believe. So how do you get started? I am sorry I don’t have a long list of todo’s it’s really simple.
Love and Pray for Your Enemies
Pray for them. Pray for them to see Christ in you. Or for God to have mercy on them and show himself to them and call them to him. Maybe you are the instrument of grace that God planned to use to bring them from enemy to brother.
Matt 5:48, Col 3:10
CHALLENGE: Pray for 1 person that you do not want to pray for.
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