Loving your enemies doesn’t come easily, but we are called to do that very thing.
Acts 7:59-60 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
When I think of how upset I get at the people I feel have wronged me, I realize I want to react differently then how I initially do. It’s so easy to spout anger and even hatred back at those mean, angry, spiteful people, isn’t it? But that’s not how I want to be, not when I’m trying to keep my heart open and allow Christ to live through me.
This story of Stephen reminds me of Jesus praying, “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they’re doing (Luke 23:34),” as he was being crucified. Stephen’s response, his ability to feel love for his enemies, can only be from the power of the Holy Spirit. He prayed forgiveness for his enemies just as Jesus prayed for those who crucified Him
Can you imagine people throwing stones at you, in the process of killing you, and you praying out to Jesus not to hold your enemies’ sins against them? Wow, I sure can’t. I wish I could be like that every moment, but that is an area I am definitely a work in progress.
As a child, I threw rocks back at the kids who threw them at me. I tripped the kid who tripped me. I argued and fussed with and complained about those who did the same to me. As an adult, I’m better. However, while I might not outwardly ‘get back’ at someone, I allow feelings of anger to fill me. I might only react by holding in that anger and seething inside. I might refuse to look at or speak to the other person. No matter that I’m not actually tripping or throwing things; I’m still failing to react lovingly.
If I try to respond kindly all on my own, I can’t do it. But the Holy Spirit is here for me, too, as it is for you. Only through the Spirit can we respond the way Stephen did, the way Jesus did, with love for our enemies. I know that’s what I want, and ooooh, even when it’s tough, that’s what I’m going to try. Won’t you, too?
Today’s Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, We thank you so much for loving us. Thank you for the Holy Spirit here within us which can help us in our reactions to others. Be with us as we strive to love our enemies always. In Your Name. Amen!
How would/do you react when someone hurts you?