I like the story about a man who turned 100 years old. The local newspaper sent a reporter out to interview him, and one of the questions they asked him was, “What is the best thing about turning a hundred?”
The old man replied, “That’s easy. I don’t have any enemies.”
The reporter said, “That’s great!”
Then the old man shared, “I’ve outlived everyone of them.”
Jesus told us to “love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us” (Matthew 5:44). That’s a cake lesson, right?! Ha, we wished!
There is a great blessing that most of us miss in this passage of Scripture. We miss it in part because we may not want to acknowledge that we have enemies — people that don’t love us and people that are hostile towards us. It’s hard to admit some people just don’t like us (Yikes!); therefore, they are the opposition.
Do me a favor. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and make a “I Don’t Like These People, and They Don’t Like Me List.” Write down the names of people that are your enemies — then take those same names and move them from that list to your “prayer list” and your “love list.”
Now you are ready to take some action, express your love for both God and these people by interceding for them. Ask that God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, joy and peace would intersect their lives. Pray like Jesus, “Forgive them Father because they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
People only know what they know, and the heart wants what the heart wants. Ask the Father to give them a new heart and wisdom. Ask that God would give them clarity and discernment, that they would have the ability to look into their own hearts concerning their actions towards you and others.
They say, “Hurt people hurt people.” Why are these people hurting others; what’s happened in their lives that serves as the catalyst to persecute you?
I’m not saying God is going change these people every time you pray, but something will happen. You will be changed — what I mean by that is, it is hard to hate on someone when you are asking God to bless them. My experience is that not much will transform you, grow you, mature you and bless you as asking God to help those who are against you.
Pastor John MacArthur says as we pray for our enemies, our hearts become knitted to the heart of God. When we practice what Jesus preaches, we start to want what God wants for these people. Wow! To have a heart like the heart of God — now that’s a transformation!
In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Perfect means that we are moving towards maturity or completion. We are becoming less like ourselves and more like Jesus. That’s a pretty good gig, and it’s available to all of us, and one of the processes of perfection is to pray for others that may not think we are the flavor of the month. Go get’em! He told me to tell you that.