REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on April 10, 2013. He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Praying for our Enemies”
Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. 12 They repay me evil for good and leave my soul forlorn. 13Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, 14 I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.
David’s situation in Psalm 34 was an unhappy one. He was being opposed, mocked and persecuted by different enemies. Even more grievous, some of these enemies were men for whom he had prayed and wept. Psalm 34 is David’s prayer asking for God’s justice and deliverance from the injustices arrayed against him.
However, the question that Psalm 34:11-14 poses for us this morning is this: Is opposition (even betrayal) a legitimate reason to stop praying for others? Many of us will gladly pray for our friends, but are we willing to pray for our enemies? This is not meant to be a criticism of David. Rather, in light of Jesus’s example on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” I suggest that as admirable as David’s prayer and conduct might be, the example of Christ beckons us further.
Are you willing to pray and weep for your enemies? Let’s ask for the grace to pray for others.
Prayer: Father, I thank you that loved me and poured grace upon me when I was your enemy. I ask that this day I would follow in your example. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV): “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Questions to Consider
- Why should we love and pray for our enemies? What example does Jesus give us to emulate?
- Why is loving only those who love us insufficient?
- Verse 48 may seem impossible for us to follow. If Jesus is not giving us an impossible command, what could he mean by this verse (given the context of the passage)?
- We are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us because we are children of God. Jesus points to the weather as an example of God’s indiscriminate love and grace. Remember Jesus was speaking to a primarily agricultural society. The sun and the rain are vitally important for crops to grow. God blesses evil and righteous people alike with his provision of these vital components. So too, we must become indiscriminate lovers of people just like our Father in heaven.
- When we love only those who love us, or greet only those who greet us, we are no different from anyone else in the world. Men and women who have the grace of Jesus Christ in their hearts must be different from the world.
- This verse is often interpreted out of context. Being perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect is not a reference to moral perfection, but rather to being complete in love. In other words, we are not to deny our love to anyone whom the Father loves.
It is an act of radical grace to love and pray for our enemies, and indeed, it is only possible when we have experienced God’s radical grace toward his enemies first. Remember that God demonstrated his own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8). When you are tempted to withhold love from anyone today, lift up a prayer for them (and yourself) first. Ask God for his grace to be able to extend grace and love.
Were you able to give grace and love to all who crossed your path today? Journal of your encounters with people today.