Matthew chapter 5 has such a goldmine of words of Jesus. It’s really difficult to choose one small section to share what’s been spoken to my heart. That’s the awesome thing about SOAP journaling with a group: everybody will be given a message that will slightly differ. If you ever get the chance to read the Bible together with friends, please do. It’s such an awesome experience!
So, today I was drawn to the entire chapter of Matthew 5… it was in my reading plan for today. However, I try to focus in on one verse and one smaller section. So today was Matthew 5:44. In order to share in the context, I’ll share 5:43-48.
Matthew 5:43-48New Living Translation (NLT)
Teaching about Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[a] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies![b] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[c] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Okay, so that’s a lot to take in! Jesus never sets the bar and leaves it there. He sets the bar and then raises it higher. The great news is that we have been given the power of he Holy Spirit to do these things that Jesus tells us to do.
• Love your enemies
• Pray for those who persecute you
• Imitate God in the way He loves
God gives to both evil and good. It’s easy for us to only love those who are lovely, good to us, and easy to love. However, everybody can do that! Even the corrupt and evil ones in the world love their family and lovely people around them. Show your love to those who are deemed unlovable, difficult, evil to you and hate you. Have you ever noticed you can stop someone in their tracks just by showing unexpected kindness? What a way to show the love of Jesus… just by being kind and loving when it’s least expected! Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us. Anyone who is against us? Pray for THEM?! And that doesn’t mean pray for them to go away. Pray for them in a sincere way… wow. That is difficult. We know with God’s help, we can genuinely learn to do this, however unappealing it is to our sinful heart.
Oh God in Heaven,
You’ve given us Your Word and the words of Jesus. Please don’t let us read and forget. Help us to change and follow You. Let our hearts be softened. We are so wired to hate, seek revenge and harden our hearts to forgiveness. Let us be bold and different and love those who hate us, betray us, and seek vengeance towards us. Let us love those who the world has said is unlovable or unworthy. We can only do this with the help of the Holy Spirit, who you’ve given to those who know Christ as their savior. You haven’t left us without a helper, and for that we thank you!
God, days can be so difficult. Let us show kindness and love when it’s least expected. Help us to think before we speak or act. Change our rotten hearts into softened reflections of Christ’s heart for the world. Let us remember we love only because YOU loved first.
Thank you for this day and be with those who are going through difficult times that can set hate into their hearts. Let them run to You, God.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
5:43 Lev 19:18.
5:44 Some manuscripts add Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Compare Luke 6:27-28.
5:47 Greek your brothers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.