– Charles Swindoll
Loving Our Enemies
Jesus turns the world upside down in Matthew 5. Instead of doing what the world naturally does by hating its enemies, Jesus tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This is “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” (Matthew 5:45). How do we respond to people who hate us? With love and prayer.
Praying for Our Persecutors
As Jesus gave the Beatitudes, He must have shocked His listeners because He said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). If you’re persecuted, try this: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12). That’s responding in a godly manner because Jesus died for us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:10).
Doing Good to Those Who Do Evil to Us
Doesn’t’ it seem difficult to do good things to people who do nothing but bad to you? Yes. But we’re called to respond differently than the world, so Jesus says, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).
Blessing Those Who Curse Us
How about asking God to bless those who curse you, to love those who hate you, and to do good to those who do bad to you? Why? Jesus says, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). Fight hate with love, persecution with prayer, indifference with compassion, and bad with good.
Charles Swindoll is so right that “life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” How will you respond to hate, persecution, and evil done against you? If we don’t respond in kind but instead offer them mercy, we’re more like the children of God than ever.