Matthew – Fulfilled
Years ago, challenging “grace” words were ingrained into memory. Those words come forward when I am in situations that need the intent of these simple, profound words applied. “How you treat others is how you are treating Jesus Christ.” Whatever you do, you are doing it to Christ. When we malign our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are saying those words directly to Christ. Whenever we are gracious instead of hitting back with sarcasm or gossip, we are doing it to Christ. We must look beyond the evil played out in a person…to Christ. Only then can we do as Jesus teaches us in this next passage to “love your enemies”.
Jesus doesn’t give us a should without a how. I love that about our Master Teacher. He tells us to stand and take it, to respond with grace instead of hitting back, to love the unlovable, and to pray for them. “In a word, what I’m saying is, GROW UP”, Jesus teaches. Instead, extend grace. Show them Christ in us. Show them unconditional love. Show them you care about them and will pray earnestly for them. The challenge? “Let your enemies bring out the best in you, not the worst. This is Kingdom thinking and living.
Matthew 5, The Message
Love Your Enemies
38-42 “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
What do we learn?
–The challenge is to think and act like Christ taught us which is opposite to the way the world thinks and behaves. This is Kingdom thinking and living.
–Peace comes to those who don’t fight back. No one can continue the war if the other one is not throwing back arsenals of hate.
–God gives His best to everyone, the nice and the nasty. We are to do the same, living out His identity in us. Let’s be the nice and not the nasty!
–Love the unlovable.
–Pray God’s best for those who hurt you and others.
–Hurting people hurt others. Pray for God to heal their hurt.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are gracious and more kind to us than we deserve. This message is a challenge to all of us. Our gut reaction is to fight back. Be our strength and resolve to live generously and graciously when under attack by the enemy’s schemes working in venerable, hurt people. Help us to love the unlovable like you love us. Help us to practice the servant life. You taught us well. Now help us live it out loud.
In Jesus Name, Amen