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Love Your Enemies

Love Your Enemies

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Published by Ronnie Bray

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Published by: Ronnie Bray on Dec 24, 2010
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12/09/2013

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LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
(Matt. 5:43)43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hateyou, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;(Luke 6:26)26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.27 ¶ But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that takethaway thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.(In The Lord's Service, p. 157)7.
 Pray for your enemies.
Christ said to the Nephites, "Love your enemies, bless themthat curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you" (3 Nephi 12:44; see also Matthew 5:44; 3 Nephi 12:10-12). While on the cross,the Savior pleaded, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Many people are kept from the truth—not because they don't want it, but because they know not whereto find it (see D&C 123:12).(This Nation Shall Endure, p. 64 - 65)"Thou shalt not kill." (Exodus 20:13.) We still frown on murder, but need we bereminded in what small esteem life is now held? Men are to live, else they could not work outtheir destiny. This mandate was given to Israel and to each child thereof. It is the command notto commit the sin of Cain. It is binding upon every one of God's children. It speaks to them asindividuals; it commands them as associated together in nations. It covers the single case of another Abel; it embraces the mass slaughter of war. It is the law higher than the law of  punishment: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." (Exodus 21:24.) Itforecast the Master's law of love and forgiveness: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."(Matthew 5:44.)(TO REACH EVEN UNTO YOU, p. 9) Now some who have detoured from the road to peace and happiness have done sothrough transgression. With all my heart I urge you to immediately see your bishop and clear upany problem, that you may again enjoy a quiet and a peaceful conscience.May I suggest even a further distillation or refinement of the elusive and endless quest of  being able to live happily every hour, every day of every month, and every year of our lives: Thegolden pathway that is the most certain and direct route to that happiness which would enrich
 
and bless your life and the lives of others who cross your pathway is your ability to love. It isselfless giving of love, the kind of love that has concern and interest and some measure of charityfor every living soul. It will require that you show love even for your enemies and seek to give a benediction to them that curse you. "Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them whichdespitefully use you." (Matthew 5:44.) In so doing you will enjoy the love of God himself and beable to soar above the ill winds that blow, above the sordid, above the self-defeating and the bitter. You have the promise that "your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall beno darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things." (D&C88:67.)(TO REACH EVEN UNTO YOU, p. 113)I recalled how, as a boy, I had been taught by my mother the words of the Savior, asrecorded by Matthew, that tell us that true Christians are supposed to pray for those whodespitefully use them. (Matthew 5:44.) I certainly felt that I had been despitefully used. Ihappened to be serving as a bishop in the Church at that time, and I chastised myself because Iwas something less of a Christian than I ought to be. I had not first considered the direction of the Master. At an appropriate place and time, I went to my knees and uttered a simple but sincere prayer for the well-being of this man in Texas. I am ashamed to say that this was the first time inmy life when the sole and only purpose of a prayer was in the interest of one who, in my opinion,had not done well by me. The prayer seemed to have been almost instantaneously heard and brought dramatic results. In the time that it takes for an airmail letter to come from Texas, therearrived a communication from this man, containing the promised money. In the letter was anexplanation that he had been seriously ill, had been in the hospital, and had had to close hisoffice, but now was doing better. He asked our pardon and apologized for the inconvenience thatthis caused.I relate this experience without apology to anyone who might think that I was weak, inadequate,or foolish for having humbly sought to follow a commandment of the Savior for a solution to a practical problem. The Price of Discipleship discipleship is obedience. In many languages, theword
disciple
comes from the word
discipline.
Self-discipline and self-control are consistent and permanent characteristics of the followers of Jesus.The disciples of Christ receive a call not only to forsake the pursuit of worldly things, but also tocarry the cross. To carry the cross means to follow his commandments and to build up his churchupon the earth. "If any man will come after me," said Jesus of Nazareth, "let him deny himself,and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23.) "And whosoever doth not bear hiscross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27.)(HOWEVER LONG AND HARD THE ROAD, p. 82)We learn that there is great power in the united faith of the priesthood. It was not only theelder Alma who prayed when his son was laid helpless and insensible before him, but also the priests and, we might assume, other faithful friends and neighbors. With the support of more private prayers, the priesthood assembled and "began to fast, and to pray to the Lord their Godthat he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak, and also that his limbs might receivetheir strength—that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness andglory of God." (Mosiah 27:22.)
 
Here is a majestic example of Christlike love. No one in this group seemed delighted thatdevastating recompense had finally come. No one here seemed pleased to imagine the torment of this young spirit. Yet this was the young man who had despised their faith, harmed their lives,and attempted to destroy the very church of God, which they held dearer than life itself. But their response was the response of the Master: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, dogood to them that hate you, and
 pray for them which despitefully use you
, and persecute you."(Matthew 5:44. Italics added.) These saints were wise enough to know that they and every other human soul are wholly dependent on the merciful gift of God's forgiveness, "for all have sinned,and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23.) What we all need, we cannot in goodconscience or integrity deny another. So they prayed for him who had despitefully used them.We learn that repentance is a very painful process. By his own admission Alma said hewandered "through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death," that he was consumed with an"everlasting burning. . . . I was in the darkest abyss," he said. "My soul was racked with eternaltorment." (Mosiah 27:28-29.)"My soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins. . . . I wastormented with the pains of hell. . . . The very thought of coming into the presence of my Goddid rack my soul with inexpressible horror." Then this most appalling cry: "Oh, thought I, that Icould be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand inthe presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds." (Alma 36:12-15.)For three seemingly endless days and nights he was torn "with the pains of a damnedsoul" (Alma 36:16), pain so real that he was physically incapacitated and spiritually terrorized bywhat appeared to be his ultimate fate. No one should think that the gift of forgiveness is fullyrealized without significant effort on the part of the forgiven. No one should be foolish enough tosin willingly or wantonly, thinking forgiveness is easily available.Repentance of necessity involves suffering and sorrow. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasnot read the life of the young Alma, nor tried personally to repent. In the process of repentancewe are granted just a taste of the suffering we would endure if we failed to turn away from evil.That pain, though only momentary for the repentant, is the most bitter of cups. No man or woman should be foolish enough to think it can be sipped, even briefly, without consequence.Remember the words of the Son of God himself of those who don't repent: "Therefore Icommand you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not,yea, how hard to bear you know not. . . . Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatestof all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit— and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink." (D&C 19:15, 18.)We learn that when repentance is complete, we are born again and leave behind forever the self we once were. To me, none of the many approaches to teaching repentance falls moreshort than the well-intentioned suggestion that "although a nail may be removed from a wooden post, there will forever be a hole in that post." We know that repentance (the removal of that nail,if you will) can be a very long and painful and difficult task. Unfortunately, some will never have the incentive to undertake it. We even know that there are a very few sins for which norepentance is possible. But where repentance
is
possible, and its requirements are faithfully pursued and completed, there is no "hole left in the post" for the bold reason that it is no longer the same post. It is a new post. We can start again, utterly clean, with a new will and a new wayof life.Through repentance, we are changed to what Alma calls "new creatures." (Mosiah27:26.) We are "born again; yea, born of God, changed from [our] carnal and fallen state, to astate of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters." (Mosiah27:25; see also 5:1-12.) Repentance and baptism allow Christ to purify our lives in the blood of 

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