by Pastor Lee Hemen
March 12, 2008
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
We are told over and over again in our society that “all you need is love.” Yet, few in our society practice it or if they do it is usually to assuage personal guilt in some way. Guilt of being better off than others, guilt on being freer than others, or guilt over doing better than others. Love has also been reduced to emotional and physical feelings. We “love” chocolate, we “love” to go to the movies, or we “fall in love.” And while none of these are necessarily bad in of themselves, these self-induced definitions of love have colored the meaning of love that Jesus meant here in these verses. In fact we find it far more comforting and easy to love those who love us and hate those who are our enemies.
Here’s what I mean: Jesus put a whole new bent on the issue of what real love is. We are to love our enemies and even go so far as to actually pray for those who seek to harm us! Was He insane? Of course not, but He did want us to know exactly who we were in Him: “sons of your Father in heaven.” He wanted us to understand that loving those who hate you can only come about if you have been changed spiritually. It does not come about as an act of your will or emotions. It is something that is done through you because someone, Jesus Christ, has changed who you actually are.
We are to be “perfect” as God the Father is perfect, which is humanly impossible as well as you and I both know. We can never be “perfect” by just trying to change ourselves. However, because of Jesus we can obtain that which was once impossible to acquire “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14) That’s us! Those who have trusted Him with our lives. I could never love those who hated me, in fact, I would and do have a difficult time even liking or wanting to be around those who just want to ignore me! It is only by the love of God which has changed me can I even care about the needs of others and love those who would persecute me. I can do it because the love of God now lives in me, and I know just how unlovable I once was!
Today, let’s love those who seem unlovable, not because we can all of a sudden decide we should, but instead by remembering that at one time we too were just the same unlovable type until Jesus made the change in our hearts. We can do it because God first loved us.
NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety. This devotional will follow Morning by Morning by C H Spurgeon. You may use it however you desire.