Pages

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

God Tells Me to Respond to Unfairness with Love

In review of Matthew 5:43-44 it says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (NIV).

Today’s passage comes from Matthew 5:43-48 where Jesus teaches me about loving enemies. He tells me that I may have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, I’ll will be acting as a true child of my Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike. If I love only those who love me, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If I am kind only to my friends, how am I different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But I am to to be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.

By telling me to not retaliate, Jesus keeps me from taking the law into my own hands. By loving and praying for my enemies, I can overcome evil with good. In the past the Pharisees interpreted Leviticus 19:18 as teaching that they shroud love only those who love in return, and Psalms 139:19-22 and 140:9-11 as meaning that they should hate their enemies. But Jesus says I am to love my enemies and treat them well, I will then truly show that Jesus is Lord of my life. This is possible only if I give myself fully to God, because only he can deliver people from natural selfishness. I must trust the Holy Spirit to help me show love to those for whom I may not feel like loving.

How can I be perfect? (1) In character: in this life I cannot be flawless, but I can aspire to be as much like Christ as possible. (2) In holiness: I am to separate myself from the world's sinful values. I am to be devoted to God's desires rather than my own and carry his love and mercy into the world. (3) In maturity: I can't achieve Christlike character and holy living all at once, but I must grow toward maturity and wholeness. Just as I expect different behavior from a baby, a child, a teenager, and an adult, so God expects different behavior from me, depending on my stage of spiritual development. (4) In love: I can seek to love others as completely as God loves me.

I can be perfect if my behavior is appropriate for my maturity level - perfect, yet with much room to grow. My tendency to sin must never deter me from striving to be more like Christ. Christ calls all of his disciples to excel, to rise above mediocrity, and to mature in every area, becoming like him. Those who strive to become perfect will one day be perfect, even as Christ is perfect.

Unfairness is part of the human condition. You can’t live on this earth for long without feeling like someone has treated you unfairly. I can choose to respond to the people who hurt you by hurting them. But God gives me another option in his Word: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV). When people hurt me, they expect me to retaliate. They expect me to seek revenge.

But God wants me to do the exact opposite. He wants me to respond in love. Respond to mistreatment with love, and I keep the other person from controlling me. Booker T. Washington once said, “I will never allow another man to control my life by allowing him to make me hate him.” I can’t control when another person treats you unfairly. I can however control whether I get bitter in the process. I can control my response to injustice. Just because I respond to an offender lovingly doesn’t mean I continue to allow injustice. On the contrary, I must lovingly seek justice. I must work for justice in the world without retaliating. The Bible commands us to “be fair-minded and just. Do what is right!” (Jeremiah 22:3 NLT) Martin Luther King Jr. was a great example of this. He fought against injustice without violence. He overcame evil through the power of love. He followed the example of Jesus, who chose to forgive his persecutors even as they were killing him. That’s our calling as followers of Jesus. Unfairness and injustice may be part of the human condition, but I must not feed into it. Instead, God calls me to respond in love.

Bottom Line:
We think we love those close to us and hate those against us. But Jesus tells us to love those who are against us and to pray for them.

What this means to me:
I may think that it's good to love my neighbor and hate those who oppose me. But Jesus tells me to love my oppressors and even pray for the ones who persecute me.

In summary, I shouldn’t take matters into my own hands. Jesus tells me to love my enemies and to treat them well, even pray for them. Trust the Holy Spirit to help me show love to those for whom I may not feel like loving. Imitate Christ in Character, separate myself from the world's sinful desires, be devoted to God's desires rather than my own and carry his love and mercy into the world. Grow toward maturity and wholeness. Seek to love others as completely as God love me.

Thank your Father for another day here to do your will and to learn about you. I tried yesterday to go into my day without stress (especially given what happened over the weekend), however after back-to-back meetings and incoming requests I still could feel myself becoming overwhelmed. I ask you Father today to help me relax and handle each situation with calmness. Allow me to give grace to others. I continue to ask you for wisdom to handle my work list and to respond rightly to others. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, Amen!

0 comments: