Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love Your Enemy

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”
-Jesus  Matthew 5:43-44 (NLT)

The media has pummeled us with red hearts, candy and flowers since before Christmas trees were removed. Really! Romantic love is easy and fun to express, but broader love doesn’t come as naturally.

‘You have heard’, refers to Old Testament rules God established in forming a nation of His people. One of the many ways God taught them to be in community together was to not “seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” Neighbors were fellow Jews. (Lev 19:18)
In contrast, God excludes from the community nations that either attacked or withheld provision during the Israelites’ 40 years in the wilderness. “Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them as long as you live” ie hate your enemies (Deut 23:6).
In the radical Sermon on the Mount, Jesus flips many accepted interpretations of Hebrew law on end, including “love your enemies”.
Does God change His mind?
Do God’s rules change with the times?
The times were definitely changing. In the Old Testament, God was molding a people set apart. In the New Testament, Jesus is extending salvation to all people, including the dreaded enemy.
The Jews now needed to express a loving attitude toward non-Jews, even to the point of praying for their oppressors. What???? The Romans, arch enemy #1, were brutally crushing the Jews both financially and physically. Praying for this bitter adversary would be extremely challenging, not to mention unpleasant.
But Jesus commands us to love. Period. All people. Friends and enemies.
Who do you need to treat more lovingly? Will you pray for them?
#SeedsofScripture #LoveYourEnemy

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Cathy. I believe the definition of the word love is what trips people up when it comes to loving our enemy. It confused me at first until someone explained it to me. "You don't have to have warm feelings for your abuser. You don't even have to communicate with him. However, you don't wish him ill will and you pray for him" That gave me a clearer definition. Thanks for posting, my friend.