Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Love Your Enemies and Pray

By Hayley Boud

Mathew 5:43-46, “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy’ but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those you love you, what reward to you have? Don’t the tax-gatherers [non-christians] do the same?

Love your enemy? Who is your enemy? I don’t really feel like I have enemies. That is such a harsh word, I don’t really think I have enemies but I think that any person can at different points be an enemy to us when they do/say things that push us to sin. This can include our children, our husband/wife, our friends, our parents, our work mates. We love these people, we don’t hate them but from time to time they annoy us, or disturb us, or offend us, or disrespect us or don’t understand us. This makes us feel in our hearts (even just for a moment) that they are our enemies.

They are our spiritual enemy because they are pushing us to sin, to become angry or jealous or to complain but we have to remember in that moment that we must love them and we must pray for them. It’s important not to give in to that temptation to have negative thoughts or to complain or to become angry, even when they are pushing you to the limit.

The Bible is clear, we must pray for THEM. Usually when someone is disturbing me I pray for myself, “help me God not to sin, or help me to love them, or help me to not be sad/ angry etc” or if I do pray for them it’s so I can have some kind of justice or satisfaction. For example, “God, help him/her to understand how he/she is disturbing me” instead of praying genuinely for the person, “God, help him to feel your love, your peace, your joy, fill them with your mercy, your grace, your love, give to them everything they need.....” Praying for THEM will take your mind off yourself! Think deeply about what that person needs and remember that God likes to bring sun and rain on all of His children so pray for God to bless them.

Luke 6:27,28 But I say to you hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you
When somebody does something or says something that curses you, don’t curse them back but bless them. If your husband is home late for dinner, don’t curse him, “where have you been?” but bless him, “hello darling, how are you? I’ve missed you, I’m so happy to see you, what happened to make you so late, are you ok?”

When someone does something that disturbs you pray for them, pray for blessings. Don’t pray for revenge as we are sometimes tempted to do but pray for their protection, for God’s help over them. Bless them with prayers and bless them with your kind voice, don’t curse them with your harsh tone. If they talk to you harshly, don’t talk harshly back but talk with a voice full of blessings.

John 15:12,13, This is my commandment that you love one another, just as I have loved you. No greater love than this that one lay down his life for another
We are commanded to love each other, it’s not a choice and that means loving people even when they are not lovable, the same way Christ loves us. Christ loved us when we didn’t love him, when we didn’t respect him, when we betrayed him, cursed Him, dishonoured Him. We must continue to love others even when they don’t love us, or don’t respect us, or betray us, or curse us, or dishonour us or push us to hate them.

Laying down your life for someone doesn’t necessarily mean dying physically but can also mean dying to ourselves, our flesh, our own desires, our plans, our pride, our fears, our own needs and our need to be right or to win the argument. So loving others will mean putting our needs aside, just as Christ did. He left heaven where he was quite happy and He left His pride behind and humbled himself. He left His glory behind and accepted to die for people who didn’t appreciate it, didn’t care, didn’t even want to know. We also must lay down our own desires, plans, pride, fears, needs and comforts.

Romans 12:9, Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor evil, cling to what is good.

Our love must be genuine, not just pretend or acting. It’s not always easy, I know sometimes I pretend that I love someone but really I don’t even like them. But that’s when I pray for true genuine love for that person and it helps when I also pray for them genuinely, it makes me put myself in their shoes and understand them better and it helps me to love them sincerely.

We have to abhor what is evil which is sin. We have to hate the sin that people do but never hate the actual person. Everybody sins and we have to remember that the sins that they have done, those sins are to be abhorred but not the person who did the sins.

We have to cling to what is good. When God created the earth He said, “it is good” and that included us. He loves us and considers us as good in His eyes but not our sin. He detests our sin but He loves US and clings to US. We must do the same for others. Hate what they do but love them, cling to them, no matter what they do.

Mathew 22:35-39, And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? And He said to Him, “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself.
If we love our God and our neighbour as ourselves everything just falls into place.

First love God with everything that you have.

With all your heart = with all your emotions, with every feeling that you have – feel it.

With all your soul = with everything that you are, with all your personality, with all your life, all your desires.

With all your mind = all your thoughts. If we love God like that, then living with others is easier because we are convinced we are living in a right way with God and others. If we love God with everything we have, we don’t have anything left for ourselves so we become less selfish and less self-centred. If we love God enough to give our entire life to Him then we won’t really care when people abuse us, or annoy us, or disappoint us ‘cos our life belongs to Christ. If we give all our thoughts to Christ, then we won’t have negative thoughts when people do things or say things. If our thoughts are on God and His Kingdom then we won’t hate anyone or be jealous or angry or react in a wrong way.

If we love others as we love ourselves then this world would be a very nice place to live. Whatever I love for myself, I will do for others and whatever I hate for myself, I will NEVER do for others. If I like to eat, then so do those around me, so when I prepare myself something to eat, I should think of also preparing food for others.

Usually wives are good at preparing dinner for their husbands but they forget about breakfast, the husband has to get his own. The wife loves herself enough to make her breakfast so she should love her husband in the same way and also prepare his breakfast. Husbands also can remember that.

Whatever you would do for yourself because you love yourself, do for others. But don’t expect that it must be done back to you. Just do it ‘cos you love and for no other reason. Not to be thanked, or praised or recognised or rewarded but simply ‘cos you love that person as much as you love yourself.

From your example others will learn. E.g. my dad now can say “I love you”. My flatmates from when I was 18 have learnt to share ‘cos I started to share with them.

It’s easy to think how to love someone in that context ‘cos we all love ourselves. We all know how to take care of ourselves. Nobody here will choose not to eat for a week, or choose not to shower for a month, or choose not wear clothes or put on a jersey when it’s cold. We all know how to love ourselves.

I Cor 16:14, Let all that you do be done in love
That means EVERYTHING we do must be done with and in love. Is everything I do out of love for others or out of love for myself? Usually we love ourselves most of the time and are completely unaware that we do it.

E.g. a wife wants to study but the husband knows he will have less money and will have to help more with the children so he thinks of how much this will not be good for him rather than thinking of his wife.

E.g. a work mate tells you they are sick and you think, ‘oh, no, I will have to work in the weekend’ instead of thinking how hard it must be for your workmate to be sick.

E.g. a husband wants to go on holiday with his mates but the wife thinks how hard it will be for her to be at home by herself rather than thinking how her husband will enjoy.

E.g. your friend tells you excitedly he/she is getting married and you think how things will change for you rather than for her/him.

E.g. your flatmate tells you they are going overseas and you think about what you will do rather than being happy for them.

Often we also pray for others in that same light. Thinking of the benefit to me rather than that person. E.g. I used to pray mum would stop smoking so I would benefit rather than caring about her health.

These are all natural responses but they show that we love ourselves more than others sometimes. So everything we do must prove we love others more than ourselves and everything we do must be done in love. God loved us so much that He gave His only Son, He was not selfish, He thought of us first.

John 13:34,35, A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved this all men will know that you are my disciples

If we were to love others in the same way that Christ loved us, then we would be really different to the world and it would be obvious and a testimony to ALL – including people who we think are impossible to touch. When we don’t argue, or discuss or talk rudely but we are kind or peaceful or helpful or welcoming or servant- like, people notice.

How does Christ love us? Example: lady from England who is very wealthy and each year she rescues thousands of slaves in Sudan. She spends thousands of dollars for people she has never met, plus her time and her comfort. As she is very wealthy she could spend her time enjoying life back in the UK, enjoying her $ but because of love, she leaves her warm/cool house with hot/cold running water and her servants and she takes off her fine clothes and jewellery and puts on simple clothes and goes to a country full of sickness, sand, heat, corruption, smells, hunger, thirst, poverty and gives away her money to corrupt slavers to save people she’s never met.

Just like JC: He did that for us. He took off His glory and left His comfy heaven to live on earth with us. He left His place of honor with servants, with joy, with riches, with peace, and came to earth with sickness, corruption, poverty etc and gave His life for us slaves. We didn’t deserve it or even ask for it, but He just came because of LOVE.

When we pray for others we do the same. We leave our house, our comforts, and we give up our time (we could be studying/relaxing) our money (we could be working, we spend petrol, food etc to be together to pray) and we choose to go to another country – we are putting ourselves in the shoes of others. Jesus came as a man putting himself in our shoes and that lady comes to Sudan as a simple woman putting herself in the shoes of the poor and when we pray for others we are putting ourselves in the shoes of that person. We have to ask ourselves, how does it feel to be that person? We have to put ourselves in their shoes because of love.

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