Friday, February 17, 2012
Why should we pray for our enemies?
When someone continually gets the best of you, humiliates you and hangs it over your head every time they see you, what do you want to do to them? The same thing we all want to do: You want to get them like no one has ever been gotten before. You catch yourself having imaginary arguments with them in your rear-view mirror (and winning, of course), you punch the air and pretend it's their face, you might even fancy revving a chainsaw up and going medieval on them. We indulge all kinds of thoughts of revenge against our enemies, don't we? But Jesus said in (Matthew 5: 44) to forgive your enemies, pray for them, and to try and love them as much as you can.
There's a good reason he said that.
When Satan instigates a dispute between you and someone else, the very best outcome he can get - the one that he's actually HOPING for - is that you show them up and give them every ounce of what's coming to 'em, three snaps in Z, walking away with your chin up and grinning because you just got real with 'em and left no doubt. Why does the Devil want you to collect every penny of your due like this? Because you just fulfilled the role of the guy in the parable of (Matthew 18: 21-35). His Lord forgave him for a ten thousand talent debt and let him go free, but then this guy went out and demanded that someone who owed him a mere one hundred talents pay him. When his Lord heard about it, he changed his mind and required him to pay the ten thousand talent debt again. It's the same with us. Guess what's heading our way after we rip that person a new one? Either a past debt we had forgotten about or a future one that God is no longer going to spare us from accruing. People are particularly hateful and bitter these days (as you may have noticed) because today, more than any other time before, we're all walking around convinced that the world has done us wrong. We're all convinced of our own goodness and everyone else's wickedness...
Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
...but God knows the real score. He knows my score better than I do. He knows your score better than you do. And when we exact our due from those who owe us, God shows us a chunk of our debt we were totally ignorant of, due to our assuredness that we're the only person in the world who's ever been done wrong. We shouldn't be forgiving people just so GOD can go smite them, either. That isn't forgiveness; that's merely delegation. You're still hoping for their destruction if this is what's in your heart, and we should be hoping for a change in their heart, the same way that someone who forgave us was hoping for one in ours. When (Proverbs 25: 21-22) says you'll heap coals of fire on your enemy's head by forgiving them and being kind to them, it's not talking about destroying them; it's talking about the change of heart they'll have when God starts working on them. God's purification is likened to fire in many places in the Bible.
The biggest reason to forgive someone, however, is because it gives us a chance to honor the debt God forgave US for, and to show him how big of a debt we'll forgive others for. This is why God said be glad when people persecute you and give you a chance to show forgiveness. If you think about it, this is one of the biggest senses of freedom you can find. When you can actually find cause to smile when someone does you wrong, it's freedom. And it's foundational freedom, not just some kind of weak, "daily affirmation" freedom. It isn't just lying to yourself until you believe it. There are solid principles behind it. When you forgive someone God takes notice of it, and more so, the bigger the wrong is. Don't believe Satan's lie that God is not keeping score and that you might as well go ahead and get in your digs on someone who did you wrong. God sees everything that is going on. In (Matthew 12: 36) he says every single idle word is being recorded.
We've been forgiven for a lot, and when we fail to forgive others that offend us, we set ourselves up for an encounter with someone who isn't going to forgive us. This is why Jesus says in (Matthew 7: 2), "For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." It's why Paul said in (Romans 2: 1), "...for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things." It's why Peter said in (1st Peter 3: 8-9), "Finally, be ye of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing." The angels know to not judge, and that's why (2nd Peter 2: 11) says, "Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord."
(Matthew 10: 16)
...be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.