– F. F. Bruce
Pray for Them
Jesus must have shocked His listeners more than once but perhaps no more so than when He told us how we are to treat our enemies who hate us and persecute us. Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 5:43-44). How hard is that, to pray for your enemies? But praying for those who hate us is our calling. One thing we can pray for regarding our enemies is that perhaps God will grant them repentance (2 Tim. 2:25) and they might be saved.
Ask God to Bless Them
Jesus wants us to ask God’s blessing on those who actually curse us? Yep! Remember that when Jesus was on the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus prayed this even when they were nailing Him to the cross and then watched Him suffer and die! Jesus taught us to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). So now we’re supposed to ask God to bless those who curse us and pray for those who abuse us? Wow. We need God’s help to do that, but He will help us in this “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” (Matt. 5:45).
Do Good to Them
Do you know the old phrase “kill them with kindness”? Maybe that’s the idea where Jesus commanded, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27) because if you only “do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you. For even sinners do the same” (Luke 6:33). If we love only our family and not those who hate us, we are no different from the lost. That’s not good enough for Jesus. We must love those who hate us but then go a step further and do good to them.
Jesus again commands us to “love your enemies” (Luke 6:27) because if we are only loving to our family and not our enemies, “what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). So “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). And you might say, “I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2-3). Nothing we can do outside of love is really useful to God and to others.
If we are loving our enemies, doing good for them, and asking God to bless them, then we are more like our Father in heaven, who sent Jesus to die for us while we were still enemies of God and wicked sinners (Rom. 5:8, 10). The very best way to destroy an enemy is to turn him into a friend.