But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Matthew 5:44 NIV
It was the hardest year of my life. It was in 2013 that my husband, Jim, succumbed to cancer. I would love to tell you that after my husband died that countless people rallied around me, as a new widow, to help me in such a brutally hard time, but they didn’t. Apart from my parents and a couple of close friends I was on my own to navigate the choppy waters of grief.
I had always imagined widows being treated kindly, but instead, I was judged for not grieving correctly, told that I was taking too long to grieve and even falsely accused of things, that while utterly ridiculous, were still painful and insulting.
It’s been six years, and even though I am very happily remarried, I still have emotional wounds that bleed on occasion from that season in my life.
Recently, I found out that one of my greatest offenders is going through similar grief and loss. Out of the blue, the Lord plunked an offer into my heart—relating to a modification of the Golden Rule.
Based on Matthew 7:12, the Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What the Lord told me, is that relative to my grieving offender, that there is a secret to my receiving emotional healing. The Lord said:
“Do unto others as you would HAVE HAD them do unto you.”
“Do unto others as you would HAVE HAD them do unto you.” -Julie Lilly, from Matthew 7:12
Read that again. Part of my healing will come in ministering to the needs of my offender in the way that I needed, but did not receive, when I was hurting.
It is natural to bristle at the idea. They are reaping what they sowed. They are getting their just desserts.
Then the Lord reminded me that I was not left with the just desserts for my sins. Jesus came to spare me from Hell and damnation. Even though I have sinned against Him countless times, His love won out over revenge. He bore the penalty on Himself that rightfully belonged to His offender, namely ME.
Christianity is not for wimps. But I have zero question if this offer in my heart is from God or my imagination.
Forgiveness and responding to cruelty with love and kindness are part of taking up our cross to follow Him—dying to our flesh in order to honor Him and bless another.
I have already begun. By the time you read this, I will be 10 weeks into my “Burning Coals Project.”
“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21-22 NIV
The coals are not heaped upon our enemy to burn them, but to bring a blessing of warmth to their home.
Beloved, if you have been wounded by unsafe people, I am not suggesting that you subject yourself again to harm or abuse. But I am suggesting that from afar, you pray forgiveness and blessing over your offenders lives.
There is treasure buried here that few find. Jesus left it here, in this wounded place, for us to discover. Get out your shovel. Do the hard thing and dig through the heart of stone to find the heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Jesus set this example and was rewarded with the place of greatest honor, at the right hand of the Father. If we follow His example, we will be blessed, too.
How is one way you can show love to an enemy?
Father, strengthen us to do this wise thing that is so hard and painful. We cannot do it on our own. We need Your help to be able to deny our flesh, take up our cross and follow You (Matt 16:24-26)—not merely in our words, but in our deeds. Lord, make us into true followers of Christ. Not our will, but thine be done. In Jesus’ Name ❤️
Copyright 2020: The Burning Coals Project: Author Julie Souza Bradley Lilly: All Rights Reserved
Meet Our Contributor
JULIE SOUZA BRADLEY LILLY
Hi! I’m Julie Lilly. I am the writer of Prayers of a Ragamuffin Warrior and one of the chief cooks and bottle washers at Gift of Thorns on Facebook.
When asked about who I am, I am quick to tell you that I am a worshipper, a servant, blessed wife, step-mom of four adult children, caregiver, retired chiropractor, writer and most-importantly, a forgiven daughter of God.
With thirty-plus years in healthcare, I am passionate about seeing the broken come to receive healing and find wholeness in right-relationship with the Creator. Through my own multiple injuries, PTSD, a traumatic brain injury and other health concerns, I have found the generosity of God to be true to His Word, in turning all things together for the good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
For those entrusted with a thorn in the flesh, it is one of my greatest joys to see the discovery of the treasure the Father hides tucked in among the thorns. God is good and His mercies endure forever!
I pray that we will come together as a body of believers who will honor the Lord and encourage one another toward wholeness, spiritual growth and mountain-moving faith. Thank you for allowing me the honor and privilege of being one of your servant leaders here at VineWords. I pray that you will come, be refreshed, be encouraged in your faith, be an encourager to others, and grow in your faith and love for God! My husband, Bryan, and I will be praying for you! God bless you! ❤️
For more encouragement visit my websites. At Prayers of a Ragamuffin Warrior, you will find encouraging articles with prayers. And check out Gift of Thorns, where you will find powerful and life-changing input from great teachers and writers who are passionate about pursuing God.
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