For me, this has to be one of the toughest verses in Scripture to obey. I really don’t have a lot of out-and-out “enemies,” I guess. But the whole message is that we need to love and pray for those who have wronged us. I have found it to be true that if you’re praying for someone, it is very hard to stay mad at them.
There is a person I know that has wounded me deeply in the past. I’m not even sure this person remembers the incidents. It all happened so many years ago. Yet the series of events that occurred, and the role this individual played in the whole thing, are still hurtful to me today. I have confessed this pain to the Lord many times over the years. I have told Him that I forgive this person. (Some would say I should go to this person and tell them I have forgiven them. I really don’t agree with that, though. If the person doesn’t remember the situation, and doesn’t even know I was upset with them, to me that only makes it a case of “I feel better, but now you feel worse.” That’s not right, either.) I have repented of my feelings toward this person more times than I can remember. Every time I do this, I feel like maybe this time I have let it go. But then something will come along to remind me of the pain and humiliation this person caused, and those old feelings rise up in me again.
I think I am beginning to see, though, through this passage, why that may be. At different times in the past, I have become aware of needs in this individual’s life. Whether they were financial needs or physical needs, I always took the time to pray about the specific needs, and for this person. But I haven’t made it a practice to pray for the person every day. Now I’m thinking that may be what it takes to finally let go of all this.
I want freedom from the burden. And I want to be finally and forever healed of the wounds that were inflicted upon my heart so long ago. I want to be able to truly say I LOVE this person.
The passage ends with these words, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (v. 48) That seems like an impossible task, doesn’t it? I know, though, that if I am allowing His perfect love to dwell in me and flow out through me, it really is not impossible.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)