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Loving Our Enemies

"There is a saying, 'Love your friends and hate your enemies.' But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his dunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are freindly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (TLB)

Sreven R. Schlesselman lives in Oklahoma. When Steven and his mother fell victim to a phone scam, Steven not only felt ashamed, embarrassed, and stupid - he also felt angry. His first impulse was to wish harm upon the people who had deceived them.

Steven immediately called his sisters to tell them what had happened, expecting them to be angry. But the first thing his youngest sister said to him were words Jesus taught them. She told Steven to pray for the people who had hurt them! She told him not to hate them or let his anger overwhelm him.

One of the most challenging lessons Jesus taught us is to love our enemies. Our human instinct is to strike out at those who hurt us. But Jesus calls us to a higher standard. Instead of filling ourselves with hate and anger toward those who harm us, we are to pray for them. Jesus did this even as he hung on the cross.

It wasn't easy, but Steven listened to his sister. Indeed, his anger dissipated. His embarrassment still lingers, but he has let go of his anger. Today Steven hopes those people will be blessed and come to know Jesus and a better way of life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your good example and for teaching us how to love our enemies. We pray in your precious name. Amen.


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