“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him].
If there is one word that can describe who Jesus is it has to be the word love. Jesus not only loves those who follow after Him, He loves those who choose to reject Him. We as followers of Jesus Christ are called to do that very same thing. In this world we will be persecuted for following Jesus Christ, but we are called to love and pray for those who persecute us. This is impossible to do in ourselves, but through the power of the Holy Spirit it is possible.
I think often and pray for those in the middle east that face a level of persecution that I have personally never known. I have faced persecution in my life but it is nothing compared to those who have watched their family members murdered in front of them simply because they claimed to follow Jesus Christ. When we think about this reality this verse takes on even greater meaning. From a human perspective we would say it is impossible to love and pray for those who would do something like this, but when we view things from the eyes of Jesus we understand why the Lord feels this way.
Everyone born on this earth is born into sin. Every person is simply broken and before we come to Jesus Christ we are simply lost and bound by the lies and deceptions of Satan. But all of us who come to Jesus Christ come to Him by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. When we understand that we are simply saved by God’s grace we can understand why we should not only love our enemies but that we should pray for them.
The apostle Paul understood the grace of God better than most considering where he had come from before he gave his heart to Jesus Christ. He was a man who was bent on destroying Christianity and had spent his life throwing many Christians in prison. He even was present as Stephen the first martyr was being stoned to death.
But on the road to Damascus everything changed. The apostle Paul had an encounter with Jesus Christ and his life would change forever. All of us are simply just broken and lost. None of us who come to Jesus Christ and place our trust in Him do it on our own strength or power, but we are simply drawn by the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray daily for those who persecute us. Let us pray that their hearts and minds would be open to the truth of who Jesus Christ is. Let us pray that their hearts be convicted and that they would bow their knee to Jesus Christ. Let us pray that they would simply have eyes to see and ears to hear.