But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44 NABRE
The quoted verse comes from Jesus’ teaching called the Sermon on the Mount. It is Jesus’ instruction to His disciples about how to live and behave; which is quite different from what they would have understood from the Mosaic Law. It includes challenging instruction like, if someone strikes your cheek turn the other as well. If someone wants your tunic, give your cloak as well. If someone wants you to walk a mile go with them two miles. And we see the very difficult teaching of love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Jesus was adding to a command that existed in Leviticus 19:18 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Hating one’s enemy was not taught but it was a common inference. Jesus points out loving those who love you is what tax collectors and pagans do. So followers of Jesus must live up to a higher standard, we must love enemies and pray for those who persecute us. It is a challenge to love someone who is against us, but it is the only means we have to change others. Praying for those who persecute you is difficult but it begins to soften our resistance to loving them.
Many spiritual teachers have said, “It is not if you change I will love you, rather, if I love you, you will change.” Loving others is really the only means we have to influence people and perhaps turn an enemy into a friend. For Jesus, all people are wonderful and He loves everyone. So it makes sense that Jesus would want us to love those whom He loves. There is no concern about loving those who love us. Rather, we are challenged when it is someone who is against us. Jesus says love them anyway. When we love those who persecute us we become like Jesus.
Are you able to love an enemy? Can you at least begin to pray for them?For Jesus, all people are wonderful and He loves everyone. So it makes sense that Jesus would want us to love those whom He loves. Click To Tweet
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