5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
5:39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;
5:40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well;
5:41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.
5:42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
5:45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
5:47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Loving those who do us wrong and take the place of our enemies is not only a Christ-like attitude but it is a direct command from God. The reason why He is giving us this direct command is because that is how He was able to win over the entire world. When He was being beaten, mocked, and finally killed, that was to show us the greatest act of love anyone could ever do. We too, lost in our sin were once His enemies. Through His unfailing love for us, He set the standard for loving those who hated Him and therefore, as redeemed children of God, we should emulate the same.
It is more beneficial for us to pray for our enemies then to continue hating them. When we choose to pray for those who have hurt us, it takes the focus off ourselves and onto the well being of that person. As Christians we know that our security is rooted in Christ. There are those who are going to hate us for our love for God and that hate is going to lead them to eternal punishment. That is why praying for them is a selfless act because it is a prayer that will allow for God to move on working to bring those lost souls to salvation.
Love is not an something that results in being a gain for us. It is a way of showing exactly what Jesus did for us and if our love towards others ends up bringing them to salvation or at least making it clear that we are true followers of Christ, its worth it.
God had chosen the Israelites to be a light to the nations. However, they wandered far from the path God laid out for them. The message that Jesus brought to the sermon on the mount was one of a radical nature. It was not a new law but it was a complete revamp of the old laws. The laws given to Moses were followed by many but the people had little understanding about why the law was given. Jesus tries to cut the middle man of blind obedience out of the law and gives new commands that get to the root of the law.
These new commands were the desire of the Lord from the beginning. We are to love our brothers and sisters and even those who persecute us. We are to be beyond reproach because we are so gracious to others. We are to take care of the poor and needy and weak. This is what the Lord desires for His people. We must lay down our pride and serve each other just ask Jesus did.
[Featured image from worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com]