Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
It’s certainly a difficult thing to do…a “tall order!” Many people find it hard to forgive and forget the things which others have done to them. Oddly, this seems to be even harder with close friends and family…
Perhaps a person whom we have come to know and love is harder to forgive because we have developed feelings of trust and love for them. However, I have seen people completely appalled by a total stranger’s betrayal, and shut them down completely.
Either way, we tend in most cases to dislike, even hate, these people.
Yet, according to the words of Jesus Himself, we are to forgive and forget all wrong doings by all people…even praying for them (V44). Now that’s where things get “sticky” for the majority of us. We have to pray for the goodness of those who do us wrong?
Well, we are told in (V.45) that in praying for our enemies we are acting like the “sons of your Father in heaven.” After all the Lord causes His sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, (same verse). If God is good to His children AND His enemies, can’t we show the same decency to our opponents?
We have to remember that our own mercy is judged by God according to the mercy we show to others. If we do not have His love in our hearts to forgive and forget what others do to us, we will not be forgiven our sins…mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).
This makes perfect sense as children of God who emulate our Father above! We are to rise above those who hold grudges and only love those who love us…(V.46). And we can at least say “hi” those who have trespassed against us; if we love our Lord we can do that much…(V47).
‘What is the purpose of all of this’ we may ask? Of course the answer is obvious if we think a moment. As God’s own, we are to “be perfect” as our heavenly Father is perfect…(V48).
We died to ourselves when we became Christians. We were bought with a heavy price. We are to “put on the new man” at baptism and begin to act as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ does. Would He withhold His love and mercy to people? Not in the cases He is speaking of in our text verse above…
So let us be more like Him and less like us! May our mercy abound…and especially to those who are our “enemies!”
Refs ~biblegateway.com~ Google~ “The NIV Study Bible, copyright 1995, Zondervan”