When Jesus says to love those who’ve made themselves your enemies, honor those who hate you, bless those who want you to fail, and pray for those who’ve hurt you (Luke 6:27-28), he isn’t sacrificing, punishing, testing, or using you. He’s empowering you.
Prayer enables you to see people and circumstances as he sees them, and gives you all the grace, peace, strength, and wisdom you need to agree with him in blessing them.
Blessing isn’t just a gift. It’s one of the most powerful acts in the universe. Blessing equips, resources, and builds someone for what God says is possible. Blessing tangibly speaks, “Let there be light” into someone’s darkness. Even when relationship isn’t possible with those who keep choosing to live in bitterness, blessing them releases you from their hate becoming yours.
Honor speaks to who someone is in Jesus, or can be, regardless of whether they’re able to see it themselves. Honor doesn’t ignore negative behavior, but it focuses on affirming identity, beginning with your own. Silent and compassionate, or bold and encouraging, honor stands with people in their pain, loneliness, and messes, and creates an atmosphere in which they can experience the goodness of God that’s in you.
Prayer, blessing, and honor are among the countless ways love demonstrates the heart of God to others. But first, love is your foundation with him. All of these are overflows of the deepest truth within you: you are loved. No matter what anyone says, does, or doesn’t do, you are completely, perfectly, and forever loved. And when Jesus asks you to love difficult people, he’s as excited about empowering love in you as he is on expressing it to someone else.