Friday 05 August 2016

Bible Book:

"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (v. 44)

Matthew 5:43-48 Friday 5 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 129



In this passage Jesus teaches us to love our enemies. Thisteaching was hard to hear for the original listeners, and is for ustoo. But Christ suggests there might be a great reward in doingso,

"For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Donot even the tax collectors do the same?" (v. 46)

This verse explores befriending those who you don't love. To dothis is a challenge and so if it is accomplished, there is a senseof reward and reward in heaven. Jesus continues to colour thispossibility in by using tax collectors as an example of peoplealready loving their enemies. But the tax collectors befriendedthose who they didn't like in order to get what they wanted.

Tax collectors were traditionally known as 'publicans'. They werelocal men employed by Roman tax contractors to collect taxes forthem. Because they worked for Rome, and often demanded unreasonablepayments from the people, the tax-collectors gained a badreputation. They were generally hated and consideredtraitors.

So if the people of Jesus' day could try and befriend, accept andlove a tax-collector, who were seen as traitors and scam artists,then surely we can show Christian compassion to those who we do notlike?

The passage finishes with the phrase, "Be perfect, therefore, asyour heavenly Father is perfect" (v. 48). The Aramaic translationfor 'be perfect' means 'completeness, wholeness or not lacking inwhat's essential in life'. Jesus sets a high standard for us. Thisis God's high standard for us all.

To Ponder

  • Today, could you pray for people who you don't get alongwith?
  • How easy is it to accept that God loves those who we reallycan't stand?
  • When was the last time you prayed for someone who didn't likeyou?

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