Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 5:43-48 (audio not yet posted).
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
Christ here calls upon us to do what we cannot do in our own strength: to love our enemies.
Who is this for you? It need not be some enemy in a distant land. Sometimes the enemy is much closer. The rubber meets the road in how we respond not to some hypothetical enemy on the battlefield but the person who rubs us the wrong way in the living room, the office, the classroom, and, yes, even in the church house. In his book on biblical ethics, Richard B. Hays quotes from a wedding sermon he preached in which he exhorted the couple:
Your marriage is a covenant that must stand firm even if your spouse becomes a threat to your tranquility and personal fulfillment, even if the time should come when you feel that the other who shares your bed has become—for the moment, at least—your enemy. Jesus has taught us to love our enemies (Moral Vision, 375).
We love our enemies, knowing that Christ loved us when we were still estranged from him. See Romans 5:8 which declares that God “commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In Romans 5:10 Paul adds if we were reconciled to God by the death of the Son “when we were enemies” then we will also be saved “by his life.”
Let us then love our enemies, because Christ has loved us.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle