“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (7/06/10): Demand #29 “Love Your Enemies – Pray For Those Who Abuse You”

Matthew 5:44

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Luke 6:27-28

“Pray for those who abuse you.”

Luke 23:34

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

“Jesus gives numerous examples of the kinds of behaviors involved in loving our enemies. The first mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount after the command to love is prayer. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). And “Pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). This is enormously important in telling us how Jesus thinks about what love is. First, it tells us that love really wants the good of the enemy. This is confirmed by the supplementary command, “Bless those who curse you” (Luke 6:28). To bless is to desire someone’s well-being and turn it into an expressed longing directed to God. For example, Jesus knew the famous blessing from Numbers 6:24-26, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Do this, he says, for your enemy. He needs the light of God’s countenance to shine on him and melt his heart. Therefore, it is clear from this specific command that love is not merely behavior. To be sure, it is doing good for the enemy, but not merely that. It is also a heart desire. I base this on the assumption that when we pray for our enemies, we ask for God’s blessing from our heart. Jesus is not  recommending hypocritical prayer. He is not calling for show-prayer. He is calling for real prayer, that is, real Godward desire for the good of our enemy. Love really wants the enemy to experience God’s best. Doing good things is not enough. The heart must aim at the best we can hope for the enemy (pg. 225).”

“The most compelling example of praying for one’s enemy was the prayer of Jesus on the cross. After the simple, understated fact in Luke 23:33, “There they crucified him,” Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This prayer draws together three acts of the heart involved in loving our enemies: prayer, forgiveness, and mercy. Jesus is unremitting in demanding that his disciples be forgiving people. When Peter asked him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). In other words, “Don’t set limits, Peter. Let the mercy in your heart be as bottomless as mine toward you.” “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Mercy and forgiveness are needed when there is real guilt, real offense. The “enemy” has really wronged you, and you “deserve” suitable recompense. That is when mercy and forgiveness become relevant and urgent. Mercy says, “I will treat you better than you deserve.” And forgiveness says, “I am willing not to count your offense against you. I want the relationship to be restored (pg. 227).”

“So here are Gentiles and Jews killing the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, the most innocent and loving man who ever existed. But they did not know whom they were killing. For this ignorance they were guilty and in need of forgiveness. And amazingly, Jesus is praying for them that his Father would open their eyes and help them to see their sin, repent, and be forgiven. That is the beautiful thing about this prayer of Jesus: It declares guilt and offers forgiveness at the same time. It helps us love our enemies by reminding us that our enemies are really guilty and that this must not stop our love and mercy and forgiveness. Most of all it helps us because we know that Jesus was suffering for us and praying for us. We are called to love and forgive our enemies because we have been loved and forgiven when we were the enemies of God        (pg. 228-229).”

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 8:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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