DATE WRITTEN: Friday, 2021-01-15
WRITTEN AT: Paul B Johnson State Park, Hattiesburg, MS
BIBLE REFERENCE: Matthew 5:43-48
TRANSLATION: Contemporary English Version (CEV)
BIBLE TEXT: 43 You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” 44 But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. 45 Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. 46 If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors[k] love their friends. 47 If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that? 48 But you must always act like your Father in heaven
OBSERVATION: While we are not so picky about who we wind up hating, we have a more definite plot about who we love. If they show kindness to us, or if they’re nice to us, we will be nice to them, and we may eventually even love them. But is that what Jesus taught or practiced? Twice in the few verses we are meditating on today, Jesus encourages us to act, or love, like our Father in Heaven. Let’s spend some time with God today and evaluate our response to this command, and try to improve our response to Jesus on this.
APPLICATION: In High School, we were taught to try and avoid the word ‘get’ in our conversation, as any other word that takes its place will often sound much better and more proper. Sounds funny, although it would be a great practical experience to also try and avoid the word ‘but’ from our conversation, for it often provides the beginning of a good excuse we devise for not obeying an order! For example, if we seriously decided that we would follow Jesus’ command to act like our Father and love even those who hate us, can’t you imagine the ‘but’s’ in our response? But Lord, You know how evil they are; But Lord, I would be setting myself up for a lot of hurt; But Lord, I’m not sure that even You could love that person; etc, etc. So let’s try and understand why Jesus may have taught His disciples to be obedient to such a command:
1. They’re His children – Imagine you talking to a group of friends about your child. Won’t you want them to love your child just like you do? Won’t you want them to act kindly towards your child?
2. They have His nature – You will probably say that you have encountered many who seem more like Satan, but I would encourage you to read the Word of God and see if It ever refers to a child of Satan’s. God created us all in His own image. Because we were given a free, independent will, we tend to be led by the things and people around us, and not necessarily by the One who created us. Living by the world’s standards will cause us to live according to it’s leader – Satan. A life surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ will encourage us to live like our Master and Lord;
3. They are drawn to a relationship with Him – How so, you might ask. I would suggest that you ask any criminal if they felt, or knew they were doing wrong when they committed a crime. Some have said ‘The devil made me do it’, while others have said ‘I hated that person so much that I would probably have done worse if someone didn’t stop me’. You see, God made us to desire Him. When we stump our foot in the sand and insist on doing otherwise, God pricks our conscience and shows us that we are doing wrong, and should be ashamed of our choices.
Friends, to hate God’s creation is like saying that He messed up and didn’t create a child fashioned after Himself. We all have excuses that Satan implants in our minds as to why we shouldn’t love a particular person. The Word of God plainly demands us to love even those who hate us, or despitefully abuse us. There is no exception offered by God, and as His child trying to live by His design, we must never create an exception of our own. ‘Love one another, even as I have loved you’ – that’s God’s command to us today.
PRAYER: You tell us in Your Word that Your burden is light, and I believe that includes the command that if we love one another, even those that seemingly hate us, that You will make the results amicable to everyone involved. Please help deter us from making another excuse why we should not love like You first, and always loved us. We have no godly reason to hate anyone you created, after all they put up with us, so why shouldn’t we make an effort to just do what You command, knowing that You will do all good things for our benefit. Thank You for loving us precious Lord, for You loved us even when we were unlovable by the world. Please melt our hearts of pride, prejudice and judgment, so that we may love You unconditionally, and in turn, love everyone You created to spend life on earth with us. May it be obvious to the lost that only Jesus could truly love like they experience from us, for it’s You we glorify and give praise to for all good things accomplished through us. I love You Lord! AMEN!
FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog at https://NuggetsFromGodsWord.org that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’. If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading or listening to this devotional, please go to the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and see all of my posts, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. I would encourage you to find a church home near by your home, and attend as frequently as you could. Get to know God, and allow His people to encourage and strengthen you in your Christian walk, while making every effort to be a blessing to them. God is at work among His people! Please consider growing in your faith, as you worship with fellow believers!