Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Table Before My Enemies

Have you had enemies in your life? I can remember when I was in seventh grade, an eighth-grader would follow me home and threaten to beat me up. That was pretty scary. I had others who disliked me in high school. And once while working at a church, there was a couple who was trying to get the congregation turned against me. These are all examples of having enemies in life.

What are we to do with our enemies? The Bible is clear that we are to pray for them. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’” That is hard advice, because our tendency is to hate our enemy; to get back at our enemy. Why would Jesus tell us to pray for them? Because Jesus believed our enemies existed because they were misguided, and by prayer they could be brought back to God.

Even more, to seek evil against others, or to harbor hatred in your heart will make you a bitter and angry person. When we carry these feelings around in us, we cannot enjoy life, we cannot love others, we cannot fulfill God’s call. Instead, we are governed by our hatred and bitterness.

We see this ultimate example with Jesus, who on the cross was forgiving all who put Him on the cross. Jesus understood that their actions were due to their sinfulness; their shortsightedness. Jesus’ prayer for His enemies was this: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

You might struggle with the thought: But it isn’t fair that they get away with it. The truth is, they won’t get away with it. God will judge those who deserve judgment; those who have not given themselves to Christ. In Psalm 23:5 we are told by the Psalmist: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” Our enemies will see the wonderful blessings we receive from God, while their actions and dark heart keep them from these blessings.

Next time you are wronged, instead of seeking revenge, pray. Pray that God would show them the error of their ways. They may humble themselves before God, ask for forgiveness, and tell you they are sorry. But even if they don’t, you will be able to enjoy God’s blessings here on this earth, and in heaven. Amen.