Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”(44)
Corrie Ten Boom in the book “Reflections of God’s glory” wrote, “In Africa a man came to a meeting with bandaged hands. I asked him how he had been injured. He said, “My neighbor’s straw roof was on fire; I helped him to put it out and that’s how my hands were burned. “Later I heard the whole story. The neighbor hated him and had set his roof on fire while his wife and children were asleep in the hut. They were in great danger. Fortunately, he was able to put out the fire in his house on time. But sparks flew over to the roof of the man who had set the house on fire and his house started to burn. There was no hate in the heart of this Christian; there was love for his enemy and he did everything he could to put out the fire in his neighbor’s house. That is how his own hands were burned.”
A deadly problem evident in society today is when someone hurts or threatens us, we want to retaliate with words or actions. One of the most difficult teachings of Jesus, both to understand is “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Mt 5.44) During the time of Jesus, some sectors of Judaism held an animosity against people they did not like, such as the Samaritans, Romans, and Gentiles. Such an animosity created a relational rule of its own: “ You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Jesus corrected this and reminded them of the law that said, “ Love your neighbor” and reiterated this as His new commandment: “Love one another”(Jn 13:34). Jesus took the command “love your neighbor” to a new level when He said, “Love your enemies; return good for evil.”
Jesus calls us to display God-likeness in the way we relate to our enemies. When we love our enemies, we reflect the character of God. When we treat both our friends and enemies with grace and kindness, we are behaving much like our heavenly father who is no respecter of persons when bestowing his blessings of sunshine and rain. Jesus is calling His disciples to a different standard of behavior than that of the world. Loving those who threaten and intimidate us remains a formidable challenge. But as God enables us to do so, we will reflect more accurately to an unbelieving and hostile world the goodness, grace and patience of our heavenly Father.
Prayer: Loving Father, help us to deal with each hurt through grace and forgiveness and to surprise our enemy with kind and gentle words. Help us to pray for those who persecute us and thus replace the spirit of retaliation with Christ-like love. Amen
Thought for the day: We destroy our enemies by making them our friends.
Rev. George Cherian, Youth Chaplain, Chicago