By Robert Hasley Pine
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven…” (Matthew 5:43-48 NRSV).
If anyone needs praying for, your enemies do. If we were in a right relationship with God, would we pray for harm to come to our enemies? It may be difficult, but praying for your enemies is the only way to deal with them. This takes the “me” out of it and allows God to take on this complex work. Has God not told us to love our neighbor? Did He mean only to love our good friends and acquaintances and hate our enemies? Is it possible that if I can’t love my enemies, there is something inside me that I can’t love? Today’s enemy may be tomorrow’s angel.
There was a single mother living in a small home with her two young daughters. She barely earned enough money to make it by working two jobs. She couldn’t afford to keep her grass cut and was usually too tired at the end of the day to pick-up her daughters’ toys out of her yard. There was a grumpy middle-aged man living next door. He was always complaining about the lady’s unkempt yard and the mess that her girls made, which overlapped into his yard. He complained to all the neighbors about the lady and her ‘crazy kids’. He even called Town Hall to complain about the nuisance next door. The struggling lady’s only response was to pray for the man each day.
One night, just past midnight, the lady’s house caught fire from a poorly installed clothes dryer, which she had left running when she went to bed. The rest of the story goes like this: The mean neighbor man had stayed up late watching a movie and saw the fire blazing from the house next door. This ex-Marine called the fire department and rushed to the aid of his neighbors. Making three life threatening trips into the fiery home; he rescued the two girls and their mother. They suffered only minor burns and smoky lungs.
The house was saved and repaired. The mean man next door now volunteers to keep his neighbor’s grass cut. He plays games with the two daughters when he has a chance, and this past Christmas he had the girls and their mom over to his house for dinner and gifts. Keep praying for your enemies!
Father God, Teach me not to be so choosy which neighbors that I love as myself. I know that You are working in them, just like You are working in me. Don›t let me miss out on that blessing when You have a breakthrough and my enemy starts loving me. Father, I know that I must resemble You and be patient with those who are against me by praying for them. AMEN.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.