Love, prayer, and forgiveness

To conquer evil, believers must do good and pray for others, and then forgive when repentance occurs.

To conquer evil, believers must do good and pray for others, and then forgive when repentance occurs.

Matthew 5:44-45 – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

When it comes to those who are enemies or who are contrary to us, we have two commands from Yeshua: love them and pray for them. In this way, he says we will be children of our Father in heaven.

In the examples he provides, Yeshua’s definition of love is something along the lines of: to do good to someone else even if they don’t deserve it. He uses the example of God shining his sun and sending the watering rains on everyone, regardless if they acknowledge him or not. This serves two purposes: it illustrates God as the Creator over all, and it highlights his equal care for those he has created, whether they return his care and concern or not. When we treat others in this fashion, says Yeshua, we are acting like our Father in heaven, and can rightly be called his children.

When it comes to forgiveness, we are instructed by Yeshua to forgive others only when they come to us asking for it. Forgiveness by us is required when someone has wronged us and is repentant, asking for our forgiveness. It is then that we must not withhold our forgiveness, even though we may be hurt and wounded by the offense. If they come to us seeking forgiveness, no matter how many times, we must do so.

Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.”

Forgiveness is not something that is offered when there is no repentance; even God does not provide that. In those instances, we are to continue to love (do undeserved good things) and pray for them. However, when someone sincerely comes to us in recognition of the error of their ways against us, we must forgive regardless of the offense. This is the way God forgives, and his forgiveness is complete.

It is easy to get all of these terms mixed up in our heads and to think we are required to provide forgiveness to enemies who are unrepentant, since we are to love our enemies. No, we are to love our enemies by doing good to them and praying for them even though we may not feel they deserve it, but we must do so sincerely with the desire to see them repent. In this way, we are acting as God does toward all people.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

After loving others by doing good things for them and sincerely praying for them, it should prompt them to repent.

Proverbs 25:21-22 – If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and Yahweh will reward you.

The “burning coals on his head” is the ashamedness that someone would feel when you have returned good for their evil. In fact, the apostle Paul quotes this same proverb and then adds:

Romans 12:21 – Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

When we do good and pray that repentance occurs, then we are to offer forgiveness based on their repentance. Love and prayer come first, then forgiveness comes when repentance is demonstrated. In this way, we act like our Father in heaven and honor the way of living that brings glory to his Name.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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