But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
Matthew 5:44 is a “red letter” scripture. That means it came directly from Jesus’ mouth. Later, during his crucifixion, Jesus would model this directive to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us when he proclaimed, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus was praying to his father on behalf of the people who, literally and figuratively, put him on the cross.
What better example than that of Jesus to pray for those who persecute us? As we celebrate the Savior’s birth, we can take cues from his actions upon his death. We can look beyond their negative behaviors, and lift up in prayer those who have been unkind to us, lied about us, and treated us unfairly.
Over time, as we continually pray for those who persecute us, as we love our enemies, our hearts will soften. We will begin to love the seemingly unlovable.
For Today: The holidays are often difficult because of past hurts, maybe even pain we’ve experienced during past Christmas seasons. Or perhaps you’re hurting over something that happened recently. If you pray for the person who hurt you, it will lessen the pain. Who do you need to forgive for hurting you? Who do you need to pray for today?