Love your enemies (28-08-23)
Psalm of Praise: Psalms 130:3-4
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
Bible Reading: Matthew 5:43-45
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour 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.
The most well-known passage in the bible about neighbours is probably the parable of the Good Samaritan with the main point being that everyone is my neighbour, a point that challenges most of us most of the time.
But here in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is even more challenging when he comments on the popular teaching of the day to ‘love your neighbour and hate your enemy’ as he says, ‘love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you’.
When I was in my thirties I was made redundant from my job in the agricultural industry. The year before I had been involved in making a couple of my staff redundant. At the time my attitude towards the guy who told me my job was redundant was far from godly. I would probably have thumped him if I’d met him in the street. A year or so later he too was made redundant. My attitude towards him mellowed overnight. A few years later the whole company went into receivership
All of us in that situation, at whatever level we were, were products and victims of a system that was purely beholden to profit, all subject to the same vagaries of life. As Jesus says (and in this is often misquoted) ‘God causes the sun to shine on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’.
I guess at times we all have people in our lives that we might see as enemies, people who Jesus tells us to love. I have often heard it said, ‘I can love them, but I don’t have to like them!’ Unfortunately I don’t think Jesus gives us that option. I see nothing in Jesus’ life and teachings that suggests we can dislike someone. What we can dislike is their actions; we can dislike what they do or have done. Jesus himself recognised that some people’s actions were evil.
The option we do have with our enemies, though, is to pray for them. They too are products of the same culture as we are. They too are made in the image of God and for them too Jesus died.
Are there people who you would class as enemies today, or in the past? Will you let God show you how he sees them, and will you pray for them?
Praying for your enemies will bless them. It will also bless you.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that when I was your enemy you loved me and came to rescue me.
Give me the grace to love my enemies and to pray for those who make life difficult for me.
How deep the Father’s love