“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” Matthew 5:43-45 (NLT)
Hanging Christmas ornaments on the tree is one of my annual delights. It’s a pleasant way to reminisce over lovely memories and revel in childhood collections.
Yet one year, when I lifted a gold ornament from the storage box, I was tempted to drop it back into the darkness.
A year of grief had passed since a treasured relationship turned sour. The ornament reminded me of lost hopes and dreams — things that had gone so wrong due to a change in the relationship, then breaches in trust compounded by abuse.
Hot tears of anger and bitterness sprang to my eyes, though the situation no longer held daily power over me.
As I ran my fingers over the shimmering gold metal, I remembered Jesus’ words:
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Though my natural inclination was to hold on to my hard feelings, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me. He reminded me of the good times that had existed before the trials came and invited me to rejoice in those blessings. Then in His still, small voice, He asked me to pray for the ones who had hurt me most.
For a few moments, I protested in my spirit. Then I softened as I considered Jesus, the King of kings, coming to earth as a baby. He came to offer grace and salvation to everyone, knowing many would reject Him. Though He would suffer much, He came as the light of the world and living water to all who would accept Him.
Knowing Jesus did that for me, I laid my sorrows at His feet. I accepted the gift of peace He handed me when I sincerely prayed, “Bless them, Lord. May they have a merry Christmas.”
Christmas can bring out the best or the worst in us — it’s our choice. We can keep the ornaments in the package or the photos in the drawer while stuffing hurt and unforgiveness inside our hearts. On the other hand, we can choose to use those physical reminders to pray throughout the season, following direction from the Prince of Peace.
Instead of dropping the ornament back in the box, I hung it on a low branch near the window. Not at front and center, where it would painfully trigger me over and over. Yet in the right place where I could see it as I enjoyed perusing my ornaments in the morning light. As I spied the gold shimmer on December mornings, I kept praying blessings on those who hurt me, and God’s gift of perfect peace filled my heart.
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving Jesus to me even when I was Your enemy. Remind me to pray for those who have hurt me rather than holding on to hard feelings. Fill me with Your perfect peace as I choose to pray and forgive. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Colossians 3:13, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (NLT)
James 5:16, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (NLT)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
Which one of your relationships needs healing this Christmas? Post a prayer request about it in the comments today.
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