"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Jesus helps us recognize who he means as our enemies. The evil, the
unrighteous and those who persecute us. These must be the subjects of our
love and prayers. I have known enemies in my life. People who have
hated me, detested and despised me seemingly for no other reason than for being
alive. It is an eye-opening experience in life when you discover some can
have a deep hatred for you for nothing whatsoever. Perhaps they detest
your personality, remind you of a parent they hate or are envious of you.
The point is these are the challenging ones. It is not difficult to pray
for evil people you don't know or to love the unrighteous among us. But to
love and pray for those in our midst who slander our good name, who whisper
behind our backs, who lie about us and seek to break down our reputation and
good name for nothing we have done - these are the ones difficult to love.
Jesus helps us follow this commandment by opening up the secrets of the Father and sharing with us how he loves. His love is new every day with the rising sun. It is constant, permanent and without discrimination. It refreshes and brings life, like the rain. Furthermore, it should be natural for us to love in the same way since we are his children. It is a measure of how much we are children of the world that we think it is unnatural to love in this way.
There is one other thing we can do which can go a long way toward helping us fulfill this command: consider how much God has forgiven us. If we constantly keep in mind our own sinfulness and waywardness in life and the mercy God shows us it will be much easier and natural to be able to show mercy toward our persecutors.