Scripture: So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6 ESV
Observation: As the author of Hebrews concludes his letter to the Jewish converts, he begins by summarizing godly conduct within the family of God:
- Show hospitality to strangers (you may be entertaining angels)
- Remember those in prison and the mistreated
- Uphold marriages with honor and fidelity
- Be content with your worldly possessions and avoid avarice pursuit of wealth
He then quotes Joshua 1:5 to his audience: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And being sure of the Lord’s watchful eye and commitment to his children’s wellbeing, the author quotes Psalm 118:6 to encourage the persecuted church not to fear what other humans can do to them (above verse).
Takeaway: As each generation of God’s people comes and goes, so does persecution, whether within or outside the church. When unjustly criticized or attacked by others, we tend to either counter-attack or retreat. Either way is a fear response. Thus, the author of Hebrews reminds us that the Lord is omniscient (sees all) and omnipotent (reigning over all his creation). And confident of this, we need not engage our enemies with reactionary fear.
So how should we respond? Jesus says we are to pray for those who persecute us and love those who are our enemies (Matthew 5:44). And how do we proactively love the unlovable? First, by remembering who God is and who we are as his treasured people: he is in control, and he sacrificially loves us. Secondly, by taking care of business at home: leading godly lives as outlined above. We will not succeed in loving and praying for our enemies if we unrepentantly disobey the Lord’s commands. But if we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and learn to lead ourselves well, when we encounter persecution, we will find the strength in our Lord to rise above any momentary fear of our enemies and pray for them and discern how best to love them.
Prayer: Father God, we praise you for who you are: our Lover who is all-present, all-knowing, and almighty! Would you please help us inculcate in our minds your sovereign attributes and rely on your Holy Spirit to refine us in obedience to Scripture, that we might lead ourselves well and learn to love our enemies rather than fear them? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling