"You have heard that is 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 he sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:43-45
How many times have you read the words Jesus spoke in the New Testament and had to step back and take a deep breath? This might be one of those passages. In Leviticus 19:18, God said, "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." However, many of the Pharisees during Jesus' day interpreted this Old Testament law as teaching that they were only supposed to love and to forgive their own people. The Pharisees would take passages like the one found in Psalm 140 and teach that it was alright to hate their enemies. But Jesus comes in and powerfully teaches the truth. In Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus says, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." Jesus isn't saying that you become a child of God by simply loving your enemies and praying for them. The only way to become a child of God is to admit your sin before Him and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. However, we can bear resemblance to God and His children by loving the way He loves, by loving the way Jesus loves. Jesus goes on to say this in verse 45: "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the WORLD that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." God's Word is truth. And the truth is that He loves us all. He loves us patiently and passionately. He desires us to love Him in return, and He desires us to love others in return. Loving the lovable is easy. It's loving the unlovable that is difficult. Let's take time to evaluate our motives in loving others. Are we loving like Jesus loved? Are we praying like Jesus prayed? Will we love and pray for our enemies like we love and pray for our neighbors???