Reading the Word
Matthew 5:43–48 (ESV) — 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Understanding and Applying the Word
Today’s teaching from Jesus may be the hardest teaching in all of Scripture to apply. When we hear that we are to love others, we probably think that we already do a pretty good job of that. We love our family, friends, and neighbors. However, Jesus tells us that love is to go further than the people we like. We are to love our enemies! We are to love those who do not love us back and may even seek our harm.
How could Jesus ask us to love our enemies? Our love for others is to reflect the same kind of love that God has shown us. Roman 5:8-10 tells us that we were the enemies of God because of our sin. While we were enemies, God showed his love for us by sending his Son to die for us and save us from our sin. Our love is to reflect God’s love and that includes loving our enemies.
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