“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
I am supposed to love my enemies?
I am supposed to pray for those who persecute me?
Isn’t that what we think and feel when we read the Lord’s admonition?
Frankly, it is hard enough to love my friends!
Yet, those are His words, not mine.
Reading these words and knowing what they say is one thing.
Living them out: well, let’s just say that’s where it gets REALLY hard!
Many years ago now, someone falsely accused me of something.
There were ugly words spoken about me.
Although this person was told the truth, they had already made up their mind
and there was no changing it.
This was not one of my favorite people to start with,
so that did it for me.
Very strong disdain grew in me toward this person.
The mere mention of their name brought the anger and bitterness
I was holding on to right up to the surface.
Of course, I have always known it wasn’t healthy and it certainly didn’t honor God.
But, I am being terribly honest with you.
Well, long story short:
In house church, we have been studying conflict resolution.
Because I knew what I harbored in my heart, and I felt a strong nudge of God,
I reached out to this person.
I asked forgiveness of the resentment, bitterness and anger I felt toward them
and I forgave them for unjustly accusing me and all that followed as a result.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Now everything’s all neatly wrapped in a pretty little package, right?
Seems they have some serious anger issues.
Although I put myself out there, confessed and asked forgiveness,
I was called a liar.
(Of course, those exact words weren’t used, but they might as well have been!)
To say the least, the conversation ended poorly.
My first reaction?
But then, as I asked God what had gone wrong,
I realized just how miserable this person must be.
Harboring that kind of hatred is hard work.
A sense of sadness enveloped me for them.
So, what do I do now?
If I am obedient to God’s Word, this is what I do:
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Not feeling it right now!!!!!
But I am going to ask God to fill me with His Spirit so I can get to that point.
In the conflict resolution study, it says this:
“Sometimes we strive for peace without “success.” We do all the things that God
calls us to, but our opponent continues to treat us unkindly, angrily, unfairly, or harshly.
Scripture makes it clear that it truly takes two to make peace.
Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.” It depends on the other person also, and sometimes they
may not be ready or willing to do the right thing. And they may never get there.
Success may just be faithfulness, obedience, and keeping on doing the right thing.
So, how do we proceed?
Pray for your enemy’s heart; only God can change it.
Remember to recognize your own limits:
My job: to honor God by doing the right thing
God’s job: to change people” **
Putting myself out there with this person certainly didn’t have a happy ending.
But I was obedient to God’s call.
Sometimes, that is all one can do.
And the “bad” feelings I harbored have now been changed to that of pity.
So, I guess some “good” did come from it all.
God is always faithful when we are obedient.
It may not look the way we had envisioned,
but He’s faithful just the same!
Lots of love, Sharon
**Resolving Everyday Conflict: Biblical Answers for a Common Problem
Peacemaker Ministries, 2010