by Jenny Harrison
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.
Matthew 5:43-47 (NLT)
In all my years as a professed Christian, this has to be one of the most difficult passages for me to digest. It sounds great on paper but I still get a knot in my stomach when the enemy comes at me. I willingly admit that my first instinct is to strike when I am on the receiving end of a verbal or emotional attack. I have to bite my tongue due to the temptation to “get back” at the one who hurts me.
One day, full of anger and pain, I fell to my knees and prayed for the individual who injured me. Initially, the words coming from my lips were forced. As instructed, I continued to pray. My hurt and hardened heart began to soften. My heavenly Father’s intervention was powerful.
My mind flashed back to a time in my life when I was the ungrateful, unforgiving, and unlovable one. What became the clearest to me was the condition of my heart when possessed with these unflattering characteristics. I was broken and longed for someone to recognize my inner pain.
At that moment, I didn’t see the offender as unlovable, but one who was desperate for healing of their heart. The situation ceased to be personal. My inward feelings of anger became outward actions of compassion.
This attitude is a stretch for a sinner like myself. It is, and will always be, the power of my Lord Jesus that enables me to act in a way that is opposite my prideful and self-serving human nature.
The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Mark 12:31 (NLT)
Copyright © 2012, Jenny Harrison, all rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Bible scripture taken from NLT.