Matt 5:43-47 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you , and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Jesus gave us the perfect example in His prayer on the cross:
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Wow what a statement!!!
I’m going to get personal here and show you how I have erred in this in the hopes that no one else will do this….
There have been many people who I have regarded as my enemy in the past and I’ve been through some real trials with them. I’m talking about “Christians” who have gossiped, lied, schemed, and a bunch of other things. During that time I spent a lot of time in prayer and yes I prayed for them as well. But my words did not match what was in my heart. My heart wanted to retaliate but out of obedience I prayed for them. After things had quieted down (for a short time) and they weren’t a thought in my mind, I thought everything was alright….until the subject came up again. I found myself angered all over again and if/when I made a snarky remark, I would make it a point to pray about it to sort of counter what I just said. I thought that THAT took care of the remark I made. How wrong I was!!!
I realized that I had not truly forgiven them as evidenced by my heart and manifest by my words. The problem wasn’t just the outward, the words I said but a deeper source which was my heart. If I pray for someone with whom I hold contempt for, my words are empty. It is simply a ritual with no meaning. You cannot pray with sincerity if in secret you wish someone ill. Maybe you readers already know this but for me, it took years! As much as I examine myself, you’d think I would have caught that but I didn’t.
After reflecting on what Jesus said in Luke while on the cross “they know not what they do”, I realized that they really DON’T know what they do. That they are following their master and cannot help themselves. They are in fact slaves to the evil one who has them in his tight grip and so how can I expect more from them, even if they profess to be Christian, when their fruits are not drawing from the same Vine? The Bible says we will know them by their fruits and so years and years later, I finally get it. The Lord grants the ability to forgive and after realizing the above, it gives me a new perspective on things. While I still may get angry at times, it is also accompanied by a sadness for their souls. A sense of understanding of their condition. They really DON’T know what they do and so now when I pray for my enemies, I truly mean it. My conscience is clear. Praise Jesus for His teachings, His wonderful truths, and for giving us hearts to receive them.