Summary: Christ challenges us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Forgiving Our Enemies Matt 5:43-48
With the events of 11 Sep
- Came a lot of anguish and horror
- Then came anger and the desire to find the terrorists
- Who did this terrible thing
- These are normal human reactions
- And are something we all experience
- But we are called as Christians to be something more than normal
- We are called to a higher standard
- And that is the thing I have been struggling with
- For the last several weeks
- What are my responsibilities as a Christian
- Toward those who plotted, planned and executed these acts of terror?
- Against our country
- Killing thousands of innocent people?
Read What so Amazing About Grace
- Wiesenthal struggled to forgive a German soldier
- Who had done terrible things
- He struggled to grasp the overpowering images he saw
- In the man’s confession
- We too might be struggling with the overpowering and horrifying imagings of the past few weeks
- Wiesenthal could not bring himself to forgive the man
- And the man died in his guilt
- Reaching out to be forgiven
Christ challenges us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us
- Now I know He was not talking exactly about the present situation
- He was referring to those who persecute believers
- But the principle is still the same
- A good part of the reason we are being attacked
- Is because of our support of Israel
- There are faith issues involved
- But the real issue here is my response
- To those who did this
- How am I to respond to them as an individual and as a believer or follower of Christ?
- I think in my head we are to forgive
- And to love enough to pray for them
- But my heart has difficulty doing that
- The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak
- I know what He is asking me to do
- But it is hard to do it
All kinds of stuff- my years of serving this country as a soldier
- My concern for those lost and their families
- My desire for justice
- All that and much more
- Cry out for vengeance, not love and prayer
- Pray maybe- “Lord help us catch them”
- “Give us wisdom to do this right”
- But forgive, love?
- It is difficult, isn’t it?
You know Peter had the same problem
- He came to Jesus and asked an important question
21 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
- Jesus told him seven wasn’t enough
- Peter thought seven was pretty generous, since the Jews thought three times was sufficient
- Peter was asking, “Just how far do I have to go in forgiving others?”
- Jesus answered, “As far as it takes to make it real.”
- “As far as God goes to forgive you”
Am I ready, can I forgive like that?
- Not in myself
- Not by myself
- My heart hurts and cries out when I try
- It has heard the cries of thousands
- Taken by death at the hands of these men
- It wants justice
- It wants to respond to the violence violently
Yet I know what God requires- 70 times 7
- He requires it of me
- Because He has forgiven me at least that many times
- Because He has called me to be like Him
- Because it will cause bitterness to grow in my heart if I don’t
Jesus demonstrated the principle of forgiving those who seek to harm you
- He prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross
33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
34 But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
- He asked the Father to forgive them who drove nails into Him
- And who beat Him, who killed Him
How can I do less, especially since it was not me who was directly harmed?
- How can I fail to do less than my Lord did?
- Stephen followed Jesus’ example when he was stoned to death
59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"