[Jesus said,] â€œYouâ€™re familiar with the old written law, â€˜Love your friend,â€™ and its unwritten companion, â€˜Hate your enemy.â€™ Iâ€™m challenging that. Iâ€™m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his bestâ€”the sun to warm and the rain to nourishâ€”to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
In a word, what Iâ€™m saying is, Grow up. Youâ€™re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.â€ Â Â Â Matthew 5:43-48 (The Message)
It has been raining a lot here on the Gulf Coast where I live. It rains almost every day during the summer. We tell the tourists that it is â€œliquid sunshine.â€ And so I have been thinking about rain quite a bit. I was remembering the Scripture passage that says God sends rain on the just and unjust and so I wanted to see how that read in context. I wasn’t surprised to find it in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. If the people listening to Jesus that day were taking notes, they would have had carpal tunnel syndrome in their writing hand because there is a lot in Matthew 5-7.
It is a passage like this that I especially like to read from The Message because it isn’t that I have any doubt about the principle stated in the passage but this paraphrase often comes back over that principle and mashes down on my toes just a few extra times to make sure that I really understand! This isn’t a passage to get all theological. It’s a passage to get real about!
All I have to do is take out my phone and look over my contact list. Is there anybody there that makes me frown? Is there anyone listed that I hope never appears on my notification window that they are calling me? Is there anyone who appears on TV that I automatically turn off? Like the President? A former President? A member of Congress?
In the area of Jerusalem where Jesus is teaching, rainfall and sunshine in the amounts needed to grow crops and provide pasture for livestock was considered a great blessing. For Jesus to say that God sends these blessings on the just and the unjust is â€“ mind-boggling to His listeners. For generations they had believed that God blessed only just people with good things and He punished the sinners with misfortune. Now Jesus says that blessings come from the Father to all people.
And Jesus says here as He has said in other places that I am to be like my Father. I am to love as He loves. If I wake up every morning and determine to be obedient to this command, I will have a lesson to work on for the rest of my life.
Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or5 rude. Love isnâ€™t selfish or quick tempered.
It doesnâ€™t keep a record of wrongs that others do. 6 Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. 7 Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. 8 Love never fails! Â Â 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CEV)
Forever written and sung by Michael W. Smith