Livin It Devotionals-Love and Hate

Matthew 5:22-24 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Well, this is a hard one. The concept is easy, but the practice is not, especially in today’s society of sarcasm. It reminds me of a story:

Sally had the perfect life. She was a stay-at-home mother of three small children and the wife of a fantastic man. Her husband worked long hard hours to support his family and allow Sally to stay home with their children, but it was something he felt passionate about, so he did it without griping or complaining. In return, Sally cared for the children, kept dinner warm for her husband as long as it took him to get home, and sometimes had to throw it out and start new. When he arrived from his long day, she would serve him dinner, rub his back, and take care of any needs he had. Times weren’t always perfect, but they did the best they could.

One rainy day, Sally’s husband was on her way home from work when a drunk driver named Lana blew through a red light and hit him at 60 miles per hour. He didn’t survive the ambulance ride to the hospital.

Sally’s world fell apart. In despair, she still found a way to hold what was left of her family together. Weeks later, she came face-to-face with her husband’s killer at a Plaid Pantry as she[the drunk driver] stood in line to purchase a case of beer. Feeling the rage growing in her belly, Sally wanted to rip Lana’s keys out of her hand and brain her with the case of beer. Sally couldn’t believe that Lana was drinking when the dirt hadn’t even settled on her husband’s remains. Lana avoided a prison sentence by entering a diversion program for what she’d done, and already she was blowing it.

Instead of flying off the handle, Sally went into prayer out loud right there in the convenience store, dropping to her knees right in front of Lana. She prayed for the woman and ended her prayer by telling God how she wished he could show Lana how important she really was, and how much God loved her and wanted her to love herself.

Sally’s prayer ate at the alcoholic woman for two years. The entire time, it drove the woman deeper and deeper into depression and drinking. Lana couldn’t believe how that wife could lay such a guilt trip on her for an accident. If she only knew the hell Lana lived in every day when she had to relive the pain of holding her five-year-old son as he bled to death in her arms. Her son, James was slashed with a knife meant for her in an effort to save his mommy from his daddy. Every day she wished that he killed her instead of her precious little boy. Drinking was the only thing that numbed her pain, and hitting Sally’s husband was another horrible accident that she had to live with every single day. Lana was responsible for the death of two people, and how could that Sally even know what that was like?

Lana hit rock bottom and found herself in jail on another drunk driving charge. She had no home, no life, her daughter had been taken away and put in protective custody, and her family had all turned their back on her. Out of a mixture of boredom and desperation, she picked up a bible. The first page she opened to was Matthew 5:22-24. God reached right into her body and wrapped his hands around her heart, softening it and filling her with the spirit. She knew at that moment Sally was praying to her from this very scripture and not trying to guilt her. Wow. What courage Sally had to drop to her knees and pray for the woman who killed her husband. Lana wondered if she’d have the strength to do that in front of her ex-husband, who was serving life in prison? She didn’t think she could, but she wanted to feel that same sense of forgiveness so badly.

Lana gave her heart to Jesus right then and there and started attending chapel and reading the bible in her spare time. When she got out of jail, she had been clean and sober for 2 years. She went back to school and got degrees in human services and psychology and now heads up the very diversion program she didn’t take seriously the first time around. Since she’s been in charge, the success rate has skyrocketed because she knows why people don’t take it seriously and can use her life experience to bring them to God.

Sally got a phone call on the 10th anniversary of her husband’s fatal accident from the last person she expected to ever contact her: Lana. Since then, they have met on many occasions and have even built a healing ministry together at Sally’s church.

So much good came out of the horrific tragedy of Sally’s husband’s death all because God led Sally to pray for the woman instead of punching out her lights.

We all feel persecuted by somebody, whether it’s an ex-spouse, a boss, the law, or people of other races and religions. We think anyone who puts a kink in our ‘master plan’ is persecuting us. We spend so much time sitting around thinking negative thoughts about them without realizing that we should be praying for them. They deserve God in their lives just as much as we do, no matter what they’ve done to wreck our lives.

Challenge:

Take a moment to think about all of the people you’ve been mentally punching in the face. Make a list and pray for each of them separately.

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