A New Heart for Your Enemy
““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…”” Matthew 5:43-45
It’s one thing to pray for someone who’s an enemy because we have to. It’s another thing because we want to. I was shocked and blessed one day to find myself in tears as I prayed for someone who had deeply hurt me. I wasn’t in tears for myself. God had already convicted me I needed to repent of the hurt and self-pity, lay down my life and what I had wanted and how I was treated, and realize the person who had hurt me was a ministry opportunity. The person needed to see Christ in me, to receive His love through me, to receive the mercy and forgiveness God gave me for that person, and to be prayed for. I was shocked and blessed God had so transformed me over time by His Spirit through His Word, that I was so filled with His Spirit that day, and that it was so as though His very heart were beating inside me, that my tears were tears of love, mercy, and sweet tender compassion for this person. They weren’t prayers and tears of, “Oh, I have to do this because I love God and He commands me to love my enemy.” It was as though I weren’t praying and crying for my enemy at all, but for my best friend. Such a deep, unfathomable, unimaginable, unbelievable compassion I experienced. I didn’t know this person’s personal story as I prayed, but I had such a deep sense of hurts, wounds, and hardships the person may have experienced over the years that might have led to a broken heart and perhaps broken life. I felt the most amazing freedom praying in love. Praying in the Spirit of God. Praying in faith in God that He would hear my heart’s cry for the person. Praying in His love. Praying for His glory and for this precious person God had created. Sure, someone who had hurt me. Just like we all hurt others at times.
Oh what exuberant joy I experienced communing with the Spirit of God as He used me as a vessel to stand in the gap with faith and love for one of His Creation. Who am I to judge and condemn another (Rom. 14:4)? Who am I to hate one I am called to love? Who am I to withhold Christ from someone who is a sinner just like I am who needs Him like we all do? For so long I had tried in my flesh to obey God’s commands like loving others as an obligation instead of understanding it can truly only be done by believing in Jesus as Lord, being filled with the Spirit of God, and in God’s strength learning to love like He does. How often have I prayed and cried for myself? This time I was laying down my life in obedience to God and praying and crying in Christ’s love for one of God’s Creation, a sinner just like the rest of us who needs God’s love and grace just like we all do.