Bible Society of South Africa

Love for all people - 26 June 2024

By Ewald Schmidt

Bible text(s)

Love for Enemies

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ 44But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.

Matthew 5:43-45GNBOpen in Bible reader

We tend to classify ourselves in different camps; we associate ourselves under various banners fighting for our causes. Those who tend to think like us, we think of as friends; those who differ from us are enemies. This happens from the grand scale of nations standing against one another on a battlefield, to something simple as sport events, where we have a friendly banter going on.

What Jesus says here is so familiar across every continent of this world. We love those who are our neighbours in our own camps – it comes easy. We also tend to distrust and even hate those who are not like us. When Jesus quotes the saying that we should hate our enemy, he is not getting it from the Old Testament. It was part of the philosophy of the pharisees and scribes of his day. Your compatriots from the same nation should be loved, they rightly believed. However, everyone who was not from their nation were seen as potential enemies, out to cause them harm. They have reserved the right to hate foreigners. It was part of an ancient history of war among the nations of the Middle East and it is still ongoing today.

Jesus removes our justification to hate any person. It is one of the most difficult parts of being his follower. There will always be people that differ from us in thought, culture or philosophy of life. Some people may hate us because we differ from them. They may verbally abuse us and even persecute us violently for their beliefs. I believe that every one of us has experienced some form of dislike or even hate aimed against us, because we might differ from other people. Every one of us has been hurt at some point in our lives by other people’s actions. We may even experience some discomfort or inconvenience in the presence of someone claiming to be our friend.

Jesus teaches us to develop a new way of seeing other people. He reminds us, again, that our Father in heaven also loves our enemies. He causes his sun to rise over those who hate us as well, and it rains on both good and bad people, whether we approve or not. His love and grace are aimed at every person on earth. When we start seeing other people as someone loved by God, then our hearts start to change. When we choose to let go of hatred, that void can be filled with God’s love. This evidence of love for all people bears witness that we are children of God. It is our testimony of love in this world; it shows that God’s love found a home in us.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for loving me and for calling me to be your child in this world. When I follow in Christ’s footsteps as a disciple, you call upon me to share your love with those around me. It is more difficult to do that with people I perceive as enemies. Give me the grace and mercy needed to be willing to share your love with others. Help me to bless those who wish to see me as their enemy. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.21.9
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