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Friday, October 18, 2002

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 5:43-48(NASB)
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Loving our enemies isn't easy; if it were, Jesus wouldn't devote the time covering it here. One reason to pray for our enemies is that they might not stay our enemies. I was thinking of that as I walked into the office this morning. A cold front has come through earlier in the week, and the temperature this morning is in the low 60s (that's a cold wave in Florida in October-cool!). I remember the old joke for such a day: "It's like Pearl Harbor; there's a Nip in the air." During WWII, it would be natural to hate the Japanese, when you coupled a sneak attack, the vitriol of war rhetoric and an unhealthy dose of racism (Germany, being European, didn't get as much hatred). Fast forward a half-century and we're allies; friendly rivals in economics but allies nonetheless. My grandparents still held a bit of a grudge against the "Japs", but it was history to me. I remember an book on the advertising industry (Jerry Della Femina, IIRC) entitled "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Pearl Harbor." By the 70s, ad execs were able to joke about the war that was fought a generation before. To the eighth-graders in Eileen's classes, the Cold War is history, having ended when they were in diapers; that generation doesn't any grudge against the Russians and has to be taught anew the evils of communism. They wouldn't get the emotion that went into the 1980 Olympic hockey win or many other relics of the Cold War. Loving ones enemy will allow you to become friendly towards them once hostilities end. It's not always possible to be friends with your enemy once the conflict is over; the differences might be too great. However, if you are praying for their salvation and praying that they make good decisions that can solve the conflict as peacefully as possible, you will place yourself in a position to befriend your enemy if the opportunity arises. Even if you can't do so, you will treat them as a person rather than some subhuman thing to be squashed, saving your spirit a lot of toxic thoughts.

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