But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Finding the strength and resolve to tolerate -- let alone love -- those whom we consider our enemies is a tall order. Our natural inclination is to scorn those who've slighted us in any way. When offended, it's easy to offend in return. If, for whatever reason, we don't return offense for offense, then harboring resentment, ill will, and even hatred often seem to be the next best thing - according to our sinful nature, that is.
That, however, is not what Jesus did. He who ultimately went to the cross for our sins and suffered torture at the hands of His captors gave the multitudes who followed Him an entirely different message: love. When you encounter an enemy -- love. When you are reviled -- love. When you are beaten either verbally or physically, "pray for those who persecute you."
Is this too tall an order? Is this an impossible request?
As difficult as it may be, we have the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in our conduct. Peter knew this first hand, being an eyewitness to Jesus' fierce sufferings and the reaction He showed those who pummeled Him. He writes of Jesus that "while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1Peter 2:23).
The Word of God tells the believer to live without hate. As we receive this opportunity through our Baptism, we can now live guided by a better word: love. Though our impulse may be to let no offense go unpunished as we meet out our own brand of justice, there is a more Christ-like way.
Through faith in our Savior may we, too, entrust ourselves to the one "who judges righteously."
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, remove from our hearts all anger and hate. Help us to live in love and forgiveness. Amen.
Biography of Author:
Clovis V. Gedrat is a pastor in Brazil. He works in partnership with the Lutheran Hour Ministries ministry center in Sao Paulo, which is locally known as "Cristo Para Todas as Nações" or "Christ for All Nations."
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhmint.org.
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