The Supreme Command

Series: MasterClass | Week 4: Love in Real Life

Day Four Matthew 5:43-47

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.” – Matthew 5:43-47 (NLT)

Learn From The Word
Jesus never corrects the Old Testament, just Pharisaical misinterpretations of it. Nowhere does the Old Testament say we should hate our enemies. Somewhere along the line, “love your neighbor” had grown to include this added oral tradition of hating one’s enemy. Jesus readily acknowledges in this passage that we will have enemies and persecutors. It’s a given! But by loving our enemies, not just tolerating them, and by praying for them, we distinguish ourselves as true children of God.

Put It Into Practice
Who is your enemy? People with different political beliefs? How do you feel about fans or players of opposing sports teams? What about the “unjust” and the “evil” that Jesus mentions in this passage? We should dislike them, right? In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God.” Perhaps this is the reason Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us, something first century Jews would have been well acquainted with. Take a few minutes now to pray for an enemy, and in the process, discover how hard it is to hate them.

For Families with Kids at Home
Ask your kids, “Are there people in your life who are hard to love sometimes?” Maybe it’s a sibling or a classmate they don’t get along with. Jesus tells us that life is not just about how we treat our friends; it’s about how we treat those who are different than us and those we don’t get along with. Help your kids brainstorm some ideas of how they can be like Jesus and love those who are different than them this week!