If you are normal, you like some people better than others, and dislike some people more than others. Sometimes you are hurt when you discover the people you like the most ignore you, and prefer to befriend other people – even those you dislike. At other times you are annoyed when people you can hardly tolerate tirelessly try to encourage you to like them.
Do you remember when you first discovered this? Did you overhear parents or family members express negative comments about someone, and then watch in amazement as they pretended to be friendly with the person you knew they disliked? Perhaps you were told by parents to “be nice” to a child you detested because your parents liked the child’s parents, or you might have been told not to play with a neighbor’s child because “they aren’t our kind of people”. Can you remember a child you liked who liked you, but discovered that child’s parents and your parents disliked each other, so you were forbidden to play together? But let us now think beyond when you were six or seven.
If you have no idea what I’m describing in the two preceding paragraphs you are richly blest. Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, (1st Corinthians 1:10-13 and 11:17-18) calls them divisions. I see them as selective unities of three kinds, some opposed and detrimental to the unity Jesus prayed for his disciples, others – God’s plan for spreading the Gospel, and finally, those which are worldly. Most of us voluntarily join many groups, but – as Christians – we know one Great Day we must give an account.
In Matthew 5-7 (the Sermon on the Mount), Jesus is teaching his disciples what it means to be the light of the world. Verses 42 – 48 of chapter 5 are printed in the New King James version below for today’s meditation:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends forth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Of the five commands above, how many do you always do?
According to Isaiah 66:5; Matthew 24:9-13; Luke 6:22-26 & 21:12-17; John 15:18-16:2 & 17:13-21 and First John 3:13 If you are a Christian, you will be hated, rejected, and suffer tribulation (John 16:33). Begin this Week of Prayer by counting your enemies. Who hates you openly and intentionally? Who wants nothing to do with you? Whose words have hurt you unintentionally? Which of your friends or family draw you from your relationship with God toward pleasures the world offers? Your enemies include not only those who hate you, but also those who love you that would divert you from unity with God’s will.
Pray for them now!
Father, I pray for my enemies – for those who hate me, but also for those who love me but would take me from your path and truth. I ask for your Holy Spirit’s presence in areas I have not surrendered to your will, that by His work in me I may be a powerful witness of your mercy to those who may repent. Amen
Today: Pray for Christians suffering for their faith in Africa and for our SDB brethren in Kenya, Burundi, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and new groups in those regions like Uganda and Rwanda (and for their enemies!). Oh – and of the categories of enemies (Matthew 5:42-48) – how are you doing?