Our scripture today is Matthew 5:43-48.
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! 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. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Jesus gives us a very specific command here: “love your enemies” (v. 44). That’s kind of hard for us. It’s ok to love our families and friends, even to “love one another”, but our enemies? Jesus makes us take an honest look at who our enemies are, why we are enemies, and remember that they too are God’s creation.
He shows us that God gives His gifts, like the sun and rain, to all people. He reminds us that we are no better than those we label as enemies if we love only those who love us in return. His point is that we who call Him Lord are to strive “to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (v. 48).
We certainly can’t aspire to perfection and a loving relationship with God if we harbor hate in our hearts. Jesus opposed the Pharisees and other religious leaders because of God’s love for them. He acted for their salvation, not their destruction, and He calls us to pray for our enemies to be saved as well.
Gracious God, You created us all in Your image. Help us to see everyone as a person of worth and love them as Jesus did. Amen.