February 8

Text: Matthew 5:43-45, 47

 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  . . . And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (NASB)

It is simple to hate and hard to love.  If you have been surrounded with loving people, you have been blessed with a wonderful situation that is incredibly rare.  I am not speaking of individuals who are oblivious to hate or are shielded from hate.  I am speaking of people who experience only love. 

More people are surrounded by people who hate, who have not learned to love, than people who experience only love.  Both love and hate are learned choices.  However, in this world there is much more opportunity to learn how to hate than to learn how to love.

Much that masquerades as love is self-centered or defined incorrectly.  “I love you because you provide me what I want,” or “Love focuses on what others give me.”  Thus if you do not provide me what I want, then you do not love me so I have no reason to love you.  In this misconception, love rarely has to do with the ways the person blesses others.

An ancient rule encourages us to love those who love us and hate those who hate us.  However, there are two problems.  Problem one: At times love must do things that make us miserable because love cares about what happens to us.  Problem two: God does not function by this ancient rule.

Genuinely righteous people do not behave like unrighteous people.  Why?  God is in charge of their behavior.  If a righteous person only loves those that love him/her, he/she is like unrighteous people.  The physical controls his/her behavior, not God.

Suggestion for reflection: Does your personal behavior teach people how to hate or love?  (Read Philippians 2:12-16.)

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 Copyright 2011 David Chadwell