Bible Reading: Matthew 5:43-48
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what rewards do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:45-47)
For a long time, I was confused with Jesus’ command to love my enemies. I thought to myself, well, I don’t have many enemies, at least not those who mean ill to me, let alone persecute me. Yet, so often, we find these well-known verses not very applicable to our everyday lives. However, the term ‘enemies’ here does not explicitly refer to those who physically persecute us.
In v. 45, Jesus talks about those who are evil and unrighteous. These are the people of the world who are, in a sense, enemies to God and His people. Nonetheless, these people would not call themselves enemies to God. They are agnostic or atheists, but they would still call themselves loving people. Yet, the Bible clarifies that those who are not God’s children are enemies to God.
In these verses, God calls us to love those around us who don’t necessarily love God. We would see these people as rebellious or living their own lives instead of recognising God. These people are hard to love because Jesus makes it clear that we are not of the world, and the world hates us. They might not reject us straight up. However, they reject God and His righteous ways.
Jesus challenges us who think we already love those around us. If we only love those who love us, what rewards do we get? Jesus points out that even the tax collectors and people of the world love those who love them. They care for their brothers and close friends. As Christians, Jesus is calling us to go beyond loving those who love us. We are called to witness the love of Christ to our enemies.
How do we love our enemies? What are the practical things?
v. 47 tells us how we should not only greet our brothers. Sometimes, just saying hi to someone can be a huge gesture of your love and care for them. It is something simple but something very practical we can do. Check up on people. Take time to care for them.
v. 45 talks about how God supplies the sun and rain for all people. So, we must also care for our enemies by providing for their physical needs. If they are in need of help, help them. If they are finding it hard, give a hand. When we find small gestures to love others, God’s love is made known in us.
Lastly, v. 44 tells us to pray for those who persecute us. Often, this is the hardest because we need to have a genuine care for the good of others to pray for them. God calls us to bring others before Him and pray for their good. This means praying for their repentance and their spiritual needs to come to Christ.
Are we going to love our enemies?
Lord, please forgive us for being close-minded and not loving those around us. Please teach us to love one another and to love our enemies. You have died for us and secured our reward in heaven. Your love is sufficient for us. Please help us to love those around us and be a witness for Your name. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Check out this article for more: But I Say To You, Love Your Enemies, Pt 2