January 19 I Saturday

Genesis 46-48

Matthew 13:1-30

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”  —Matthew 5:44-45


Though Jesus introduced the sixth commandment in the Sermon on the Mount with, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’” (Matthew 5:43), they had actually heard no such thing. The commandment reads, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). The intentional misquote comes from some faulty mathematics where the Jews concluded that “neighbour” only included other Jews. They took “Love your neighbour” to mean that they could hate anyone outside the covenant with God, whether Samaritan or Gentile.

Jesus untwists this interpretation and says the people of God are to love not just their neighbours and friends but their enemies and those who persecute them. The reason is so we might be children of God—that we might carry the likeness of our Father in heaven. We are to love our enemies because God is undiscriminating in His love and blessing. He doesn’t cause sunshine to rise on the good and a permanent cloud to sit over the evil; He sends rain to water the fields of Christians and non-Christians alike. Christians are just as likely to get sick or to die prematurely as non-Christians. The benefit of being a Christian is not that we are exempt from tragedy, but that Christ is with us and in us in tragedy.

There is nothing impressive about loving our friends or fellow Christians. Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:46). We are to love one another, but what is truly radical is when we love beyond familiar people and church walls. In the days of the early church, it was said of Christians, “See how they love each other,” but how much more amazing would it have been if those outside the church had said, “See how these Christians love us”? It does not impress the world that we go into a church building and have a great time together. It impresses them when we go out the door and show the love of Christ to them.

The Sermon on the Mount is about being radically different to the world by being radically true to the character of God. Are we loving people as Jesus loved? Are our hearts moved with compassion for our friends who don’t know Jesus, for difficult co-workers or for the sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes of our day? This kind of love is not natural but must be a supernatural outpouring as the Spirit of God fills our lives and makes us true to His loving character.

Prayer: Precious Lord, thank You for Your wonderful, far-reaching and radical love. May it characterize my life as I surrender to Your Spirit.

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