Matthew 5 : 43 - 48, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. NKJV
What exactly is love according to the Word of God? John teaches us in his epistle that God is love, and everyone who loves is born of God. However, Jesus breaks the meaning of love down further, so that we can understand it and implement it in our lives. Jesus teaches Christians that we are not to love only those who love us, but we are called to show love to those who hate us as well.
Let’s look at the love of God through this perspective. What if God only chose to love us when we pleased Him? First of all, He never would have loved us because we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Secondly, He would never be able to love us because we would continually fail and disappoint Him. Love that can’t be put to the test isn’t God’s love, but is, in fact, selfish love. Selfish love will only love those who love them in return and will only accept those who agree with and please the one who is filled with self-love. Selfish love thinks only about the person who is supposed to be showing love, rather than being concerned about showing that love to others.
When Jesus came to earth as our example of how Godly love is to operate, He demonstrated His love for us while we were unable to measure up to God’s holy standards. Jesus put us before Himself because that is what Godly love does.
In John 14, Jesus teaches us that if we love Him, we will be submitted and keep His sayings. It is very difficult to submit to someone you do not love, and you do not agree with. It is from this perspective that Jesus addresses the subject of loving our enemies, in contrast to our loving only those who love us.
In order to have the ability to love someone whom we don’t agree with, such as an enemy, we must first be submitted to God. Now we’re getting to the core of the problem that Jesus was addressing head-on in Matthew 5. He said that our righteousness had to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, if we wanted to make it to heaven. Therefore, we must allow God’s love to fill our hearts, so that we’re able to love those who “don’t deserve our love.”
I didn’t “deserve” God’s love, but He chose to love me anyway. His love wasn’t, and still isn’t, based on my goodness or my unworthiness; it is established on His willingness to love. Jesus is our example; therefore, we are told by Christ to love one another in like manner. It is by our love that the world will know we are Jesus’ disciples. Jesus didn’t just love those who loved Him. When His love was challenged by those who hated Him, He didn’t respond in hatred, but loved them instead.
God’s love isn’t like man’s love. He doesn’t require us to qualify before He will release His love to us. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees repeatedly for this. They were hypocrites, who pretended to love in the name of God. Jesus doesn’t want us to be like the Pharisees. Instead, He wants us to love those who otherwise might seem unworthy of our love. We do this because He loved us. Love requires all.
Loving Others More,
Pastor Asa Dockery
Pastor Asa Dockery