He said:“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ‘But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5: 43-48
As Christians, we can be very quick to list the things we hate or have a problem with. Jesus challenges us to look at our lives from a much different perspective and to have a righteousness surpassing those who are self-appointed religious leaders.
- With respect to this particular passage, who are your neighbors and who are your enemies? Make a list of them.
- When you think of the people on your neighbor list, chances are you feel happy, connected, drawn to spend time with them. When you think of the people on your enemy list, chances are you feel differently. Next to each name write how each makes you feel.
- If your friends or enemies were making a similar list and included you, what would they write next to your name?
- The word Jesus uses for ‘love’, in the Greek, is ‘agapao’, which means to love dearly! How far are you from being capable of obeying the command to love your enemies dearly? What do you think the first step is?
“Lord, this command feels impossible to obey. I can’t do it without your help! But, I know you say I can do all things through YOU, who strengthens me. I lay down my unforgiving heart, my bitterness, my right to be right. Please let me see others through your eyes that I may move closer to loving them dearly! Amen.”