“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matt. 5:44
Do you ever find that when you read the Bible you see verses like that and put them in your head as a mental checklist? A reminder that next time I come across an enemy or get persecuted I need to love (check) and pray for them (check). Check them off, and then feel good about your obedience.
I work one day a week as a nurse at a clinic. I’ve been a nurse for 10 years and have been through many different situations and struggles. From the drunk man withdrawing from alcohol and becoming verbal to a seemingly sweet old lady with confusion that decided to try to bite me. I’ve had my share of difficult patients, coworkers, doctors, etc. I can’t say that I’ve had any enemies or anyone that has persecuted me. I’ve lost friends when I became a Christian. I’ve been made fun of. But enemies or persecution, no. I had to look up the word enemy and the definition is many things, but one is hostile. Someone that is hostile toward you. I met an enemy this week.
I was asked to take a phone call at work and long story short, the man was very hostile toward me. I was called a word that refers to female dogs, I was told to “shut the….” I’ll leave the rest to imagination. But I was stunned. I was tearful. I have never had someone be so hostile toward me. The drunk man I referred to before was obviously verbal due to the toxin he put in his body, and the cute confused woman became cannibalistic to me due to dementia so those situations I easily rolled off my back. But this man was not drunk and was not confused. He was angry. I was so offended that I broke down and started to cry. I mean, not small tears rolling down my cheek, but one of those ugly cries. I was near sobbing. You don’t know me very well, but I don’t cry very often. I’m one of those good German-descendant folks that can stand like a statue. I’m not an emotional person. Women that cry over certain things usually make me chuckle internally. So for me to break down in front of a group of people is highly rare. Probably freaked some of my coworkers out. When my coworkers spoke with me I tried to give grace to the gentleman. I came up with possible scenarios to explain why he was so hostile. The rest of the day was horrible. I couldn’t get the words out of my head. I came home and got into a funk. A state of depression/sadness/apathy. Then the Bible verse came to my head. Time to check off my list. Love my enemy, chec… no way. Pray for him…absolutely not. I couldn’t. With every ounce of my will I tried to do that verse. I didn’t want to do it. Someone like that doesn’t deserve love or prayer.
Someone like me didn’t deserve it either when Jesus died on the cross in my place. There is was. The gospel. The Holy Spirit worked through me and I prayed. I prayed for the man to come to know Jesus and be saved. I prayed the same for his family. God showed me that when Jesus spoke those words, it wasn’t a to-do checklist. We can love our children, we can love our friends, but we cannot love enemies. The Holy Spirit can.
This is difficult to teach children. It goes against our natural instincts to treat others kindly if they’ve treated us unkindly. When someone is hostile to us it is so easy to become hostile to them. The way to teach this to kids is by using the Bible, then by your example, letting God work through you especially when they see us fail. We admit our wrong, seek forgiveness, and pray that God can take over. My oldest son saw this a couple of days ago when my face couldn’t hide my discouragement. My husband said that we should pray for mommy because someone was really mean to her and then we will pray for the man.