Our preacher, displayed the Bible verse of Matthew 5:21-22, during Sunday morning worship.
21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
He then began breaking each verse down and explaining it.
Verse 21 … whoever commits murder is in danger of judgment and being put to death themselves; for an ‘eye for an eye' way of life was what everyone lived back then.
Then he started talking about Verse 22 and what the words “Raca” and “fool” actually meant.
A few minutes later he said to us, "Think of three people that have done you wrong and that you hold a grudge against. People that you feel have personally hurt you and torn you down. People you store bitterness against."
Now, I have always considered myself a fairly forgiving person and someone that is easy to get along with. There are not many people in this world that I don't like. But just as soon as he said to think of someone I held a grudge against, I immediately had someone come to mind. It took a few more of his sentences before the next two people came to mind, but I did think of two more people I had a lot of bitterness against.
Then the real kicker came … he then told us to begin praying for these three people. I honestly, and truly, felt my stomach knot up; and my first thought was, "I wish I had not thought about them, for then I wouldn't be faced with the challenge of having to pray for THEM!"
The Bible says, in Matthew 5:44: to pray for our enemies.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Also in Luke 6:27-28:
27 But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
But how many of us actually do this? I have before and it's a very hard thing, and admittedly I quit after a few days. I honestly didn't want to pray for them. But, as Christians, we are called to do what the Bible tells us to do. It's one thing to not know what we are supposed to do. But, just as soon as we read it or are told what to do, or how to act, then we have no excuse … and that's exactly what I thought of again Sunday morning. I have been told, once again, to pray for my enemies and those that have done me wrong.
There's nothing harder than when you know you SHOULD do something but your flesh wants to do something else. This is what we face every day as Christians, in one sense or another. We all have different battles and demons we face daily; the question is … how will we respond to them?
My ‘Spirit versus the flesh' problem is, for the moment, learning to pray for these three people that I would really rather not pray for.
Sunday's sermon really spoke to my heart and brought out some issues that I'm sure God wanted me to deal with. Maybe this column brings out the same thoughts and issues for you. Maybe there is someone you should be praying for too.
Anger only hurts the one feeling the anger. We will all find greater peace once we learn to let go and truly forgive. Prayer will help us do that!