Jackie Angel affirms that, yes, we really are supposed to pray for our enemies. The devil would like nothing more than for us to have hatred for one another.
Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
We all have them, the “challenging” people in our lives. Even when they don’t intend to, they seem bent on opposing our peace or our plans, and that makes us want to avoid them. We know that we should love them, as Jesus tells us to, but it seems so hard. Where can we find the love that will soften our hearts and overcome our resistance? In Jesus, that’s where!
The key to loving anyone—especially those we have a hard time with—is to try to see them as Jesus does. He doesn’t focus on the imperfections that tend to cloud our vision. Instead, he sees gems of such great value that he would lay down his life for them. They are diamonds in the rough, and he is committed to loving them and helping them as much as they will let him. In other words, Jesus sees them in exactly the same way that he sees us.
God loves everyone, not because they deserve it, but because he is God, and God is love. And because Christ is in us, we can learn how to love in the same way.
The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus seeing beyond people’s sins. Zacchaeus, a corrupt tax collector, changed his life after Jesus welcomed him and treated him as a friend. The Samaritan woman Jesus met at a well was no paragon of virtue either. But Jesus saw how much she longed for meaning and hope, and that moved him to speak the truth in love to her. Their encounter transformed her life and, through her, the whole village. Jesus even saw the value in Judas Iscariot and loved him to the end!
Jesus is not calling us to a perfect outcome when it comes to loving everyone. But he is calling us to a more perfect outlook on those who trouble us. In some instances, this will take practice, prayer, and more than a few deep breaths. But when we stop seeing people as problems and start seeing them as pearls, we can be sure that we are beginning to love them.
“Jesus, help me to see everyone as you see them so that I can love them as you love them.”
Sometimes my heart
turns in every direction
except towards you.
Please help me
to turn my heart toward you,
to gaze upon you in trust
and to seek your kingdom with all of my heart.
Soften my hardened heart
so that I might love others
as a way to glorify and worship you.
Grant me this
with the ever-present guidance of your spirit.
Reflect, today, upon this high calling of love and work to foster gratitude within your heart. The Lord wants to give you an incredible gift by loving all people with His heart, including those who tempt you to anger. Love them, see them as God’s children and allow God to draw you into the heights of perfection to which you are called.