Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:43-48
“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 sons 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 brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the unbelievers do that?”
Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for them. How many times have you or I prayed for people that we didn’t like, or for people that treated us unkindly? Think about that for a few moments. If we are completely honest with ourselves, our answer would probably be never or only a few times. Jesus is teaching us that we should pray for that neighbor or friend that won’t speak to us anymore, or that boss that is hateful and unreasonable, or that family member or church member that is upset with us and we don’t know why.
The world that we live in tells us that we should love ourselves more than we should love others. We are urged to hoard our possessions and to show little or no mercy to those in our society that need our help. The world that we live in encourages us to worship and desire the material possessions of this world instead of God.
Our Christian faith however, teaches us that we should love all kinds of other people before we love our own self. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever beliveth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus then commands us to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus was saying that it’s easy to love those who love you back. Even the folks that don’t believe in God are doing that. But true love involves loving those who have wronged you or said bad things about you. True love is also about forgiveness, not carrying grudges and letting the past be the past. True love towards your enemies is a true sign that you are a follower of Jesus. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
As Christians, we call ourselves disciples or followers of Christ. If we are to follow Christ and be obedient to Him, then we must love those that are difficult to love. We must love our family, our church family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and we also must show love to all those people that won’t love us back. We must love and pray for people that detest us and say bad things about us. We will know that we are followers of Jesus when we are able to love those people that seem unlovable. We must love them because God created them and God loves them as much as He does you and me.
One of my favorite chapters of the Bible is 1 Corinthians chapter 13. In this chapter, the apostle Paul is writing about love. Paul writes, starting in verse 4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
So this week try to show love or compassion to someone that just doesn’t want to be loved. As followers of Jesus love one another and care for and encourage each another. If you do that – then you are truly a follower of Christ.