“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
There are passages of Scripture that seem to endear themselves to us for any number of reasons … just as there are characters in the Bible that we tend to identify with more than others.
There are passages of Scripture that challenge us more than others and there are some passages that seem to be above our ability to put into practice!
I seriously doubt that the passage recorded in Matthew 5:44 is a favorite reading for anyone really, unless it might be for the one who has become our enemy and is familiar with it and knows what is expected of us!
Just to be clear, our adversary, Satan, knows exactly what is expected of us as God’s people. He is familiar with God’s word … he can and did quote from God’s word … and will always be doing his best to deceive our children, our spouse, our parents and our brethren. He simply takes no prisoners.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 5 are among the most difficult to actually get our hearts and hands around … and even if we are able to reach that point in our understanding … to put them into practice … well … we all know how hard they are to obey!
Even though His words run counter to the world in which we live … they are still His words and they will always remain wise because His way is the only way to please His Father and ours!
Perhaps part of the difficulty lies in the words “love your enemies.” Jesus is not instructing us to have the same kind of tender affection for those who mistreat, misrepresent, harm and persecute us. Rather, we are to demonstrate compassion for them and reach that place spiritually speaking where we can return good for any evil shown our way!
Hopefully, as students of the Book, we have come to the realization that the Lord has never asked more of us than we can attain! There should be great comfort to be gleaned from knowing this truth, yet it should also motivate us to grow and mature in our faith!
There will always be those in our world with whom we simply cannot get along or be around … but it is not ours to act as they act or talk or do!
I never ran track or participated in any track and field event. Running is one thing, running and jumping over hurdles is another thing beyond my ability to even think about. I have known a number of men who were tall enough to step over hurdles, but that’s another story.
This high hurdle is a challenge for us … for us to return good for evil when it is …
- Our loved ones are being mistreated!
- Our brethren are being maligned and mistreated!
- Our own lives are the recipients of bad things being said or done!
That becomes personal! And, my friends, we have no excuse we can offer that will release us from His instructions on how to live!
Yes … it is very difficult to “love … bless … do good … and pray” for a person who has hurt us deeply! And the most effective manner to respond is to remember how our Lord responded to all that He went through at the hands of the ones He came to die for (1 Peter 2:21-23).
The bottom line to this familiar teaching is this: if we are to be counted among God’s people who are faithfully following and serving Him … we simply do what He has said for us to do!
The world we are living in right now … is a world of hatred, misrepresentation, discord and immorality! May we as “lights shining in the world” live as “the people of God!”
Yes, Jesus raised the bar for mankind to reach for … to demonstrate that our chief purpose in life is to “honor the King of kings!”
Bill Fairchild, Jr