Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.
My, what a scripture! I will admit that for years, complete understanding of this verse alluded me. I’ll be the first one to testify that I at one time found it nearly impossible to fully embrace the words it contained. There are some words that require a level of maturity to comprehend and embrace. These are called the “hard sayings”.
How on earth does God expect us to love those who have wronged us? To pray for those who have “despitefully used us?” How exactly could we accomplish what appeared to be such an impossible command?
The truth of the matter is that it is impossible to the flesh but it is not impossible for those who walk in the Spirit and are mature.
It takes revelation to understand the scriptures. Forget about understanding the bible in 12 months after reading it from cover to cover as a part of your New Year’s Resolution. You are more than welcome to read the entire bible as there is no harm in doing so. However, to expect to be able to comprehend all scripture in 12 months is unrealistic. We receive revelation of scripture at different moments in our lives and at different levels of maturity. Psalms 23 meant one thing to me at the age of 13 when I was first filled with the Holy Spirit. It now means something different to me.
God reveals Himself to us at different ages and stages of our lives. We see more of Him as we mature in age, grow in grace, and maintain a hunger and thirst for Him.
Having said that, I now have a better understanding of what this scripture means. Let me explain the process that brought me to this point.
My man of God is a praying man. I’m not talking about 5 minutes of deacon like praying. This man labors for HOURS in God’s presence. He literally prays for hours at a time. He also fasts extensively. As a result, he has challenged us in these areas. As I’ve began to pray more on a daily basis, I have discovered some things about myself that I did not know were there.
For starts, for the last two years, my life has undergone a spiritual renewal. The burdens of my heart have lifted and there is hope in my life that I’ve never had. When I was involved in a certain relationship last year, I would pray fervently for him. I would walk the floor, crying out to God for him and praying that God would save and deliver him. However, when the relationship went south and this person became more like an enemy than a friend, I stopped praying for him-COMPLETELY.
You couldn’t get me to part my lips in prayer for him.
It wasn’t going to happen.
For a year this prayer strike went on and I refused to pray for him anymore, seeing as to how the outcome of the relationship was not what I wanted. Why on EARTH would I pray for someone who’d caused so much pain in my life? Why would I call his name out in the presence of God, asking for mercy and grace? Why would I even ask God to open the heavens over him, as I’d asked Him to open them over me?
Are you KIDDING me?!
And then the revelation came…
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous…”
I too was a recipient of God’s unmerited favor and limitless mercy. How proud and arrogant I’d become to assume that the only one in the situation in need of God’s mercy and grace was the one who caused ME pain.
God showed me that I too needed to repent of sins I’d committed on a daily basis. No, my sins may not be those like the person who hurt me, but they were forgiven just the same and the same Grace and mercy was extended to me as was to my enemy.
It takes maturity and growth to see this.
I could not see two years ago that I needed Grace and mercy daily. I had adopted a proud spirit and assumed that because I was doing “most of the right things” that I deserved more of God’s Grace and goodness. Not so. I stopped praying for my enemy because I didn’t want God to bless him as He was blessing me. Why would I want to see my enemy doing good?
But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me go. He said, “At some point in time, you were some one’s enemy as well. What if I had dealt with you the way they wanted me to?”
God knows He hasn’t dealt with me according to what I deserve! He has shown me Grace and mercy beyond my comprehension. Mistake after mistake and stubborn act after stubborn act, His mercy cushioned my fall and softened the blow I deserved to take with full force. What if He had dealt with me according to MY sins and faults? Where would I be? So what does it say about MY heart to want Him to deal with someone else according to theirs?
Is that the heart of God? Is that His nature?
You see, you can’t understand the nature of God apart from fellowship with Him. The more time you spend in prayer and in the Word, you begin to understand more about Him. He’s not a human being. He doesn’t think like us. If He did, there would be no human race. He would have wiped us all out for more than justifiable reasons. It only takes 10 minutes in front of a TV to see that He is merciful to us and doesn’t deal with us according to our sins.
Two days ago, I called this person’s name out in prayer for the first time in over a year. Now this may not sound like much to you, but it was monumental for me. Imagine someone who has hurt you to your soul being at the top of your prayer list. Maybe now you can understand how far I’ve come. But there was healing in that moment and liberty. My desire is not that the one who hurt me get “his” anymore. My desire is that He would come to know the Grace of God and the sweet communion of His Holy Spirit. You can’t have a real encounter with God and remain the same. It’s is impossible.
Once His presence comes into your life, you are not the same. Things that used to burden you fall off and yokes that once bound you are destroyed. The presence of God will change your situation. Why wouldn’t I want those who have hurt me, who obviously need God in their lives, to be changed in the splendor of His presence?
Loving your enemies is indeed a hard saying…
But those who desire the sincere meat of the Word can know it and digest it.