Grow in Grace

Ah, an Enemies’ Love. There are few things in life that are as challenging to us as believers as loving our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) Sure praying for them, or should I say, against them is easy. But as we come to Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus now quotes Leviticus 19:17-18~Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (NIV) Christ Jesus makes one small addition adding in the perversion of the rabbis: You have heard that it was said, love and hate…(5:43). Nowhere does the Old Testament teach us to hate one’s enemies. To set the record straight in Matthew 5:44~But I tell you to love (ἀγαπάω agapaō) your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (ESV). The word (ἀγαπάω agapaō) love is the verb form of the Greek noun Agape. It is a self-sacrificing love that seeks to meet the needs of others. Which means the love of God is so powerful in those who are righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, that they love their enemies. 

Christ Jesus explains this makes us children of our Father in heaven who makes the sunrise and sends rain on evil, as well as, good people. (5:45) If God is in us, then we will live, act, and love, like our Heavenly Father. As His children, we’ll seek to emulate Him in all of our living. Love is so much more than just what we know, see, taste, or perceive. The challenge is to expand our horizon as we let God, who sees all and knows all, direct our path, being utilized by our maker. Do you remember the last time God used you for His glory? Wasn’t that an amazing experience. In a nutshell, Jesus says be perfect. Matthew 5:48~Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (ESV) (τέλειος teleios) or perfect, it means to reach the intended end. In James 1:4 James calls it maturity or completeness. While Paul says in Philippians 3:12, I am not quite there yet, but I am working on it. Perhaps you are like me, singing the Worship Word classic: He’s still working on me, To make me what I need to be, It took him just a week to make the moon and stars, The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars, How loving and patient He must be, ’Cause He’s still workin’ on me. ~ Bill Gather ~

Our Takeaway for the week is: Are you working on Spiritual Maturity? For believers, it means being righteous, and not just religious. Being in Christ, as Peter even gets in on our Lord’s powerful teaching by sharing some benefits of being righteous in 1 Peter 3:12~For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (NIV) That is a wonderful blessing for all who are in the Lord. Are you in the Lord today? If not why not take time to ask Jesus into your heart, to change your life, and to renew you with His righteousness. If you are already a believer, our righteousness comes by faith in Jesus. Which means we’ll abhor divorce, abandon all deceit, resist retaliation, and love like Jesus, even our enemies. Take some time today to thank the Lord for working in your life, to mature your faith, help you be, all that He has created you to be.

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