Combat Training with God – Matthew 5:43-48

Love One Another As I have Loved You – Jesus

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Lavishing Love

God showers us with His love every moment of every day.  From every breath that we take, to the greatest of accomplishments made, God is helping us with every little thing.  He sought us and bought us with the redeeming blood of Christ.  For some, He sought them for decades before they came to Him.

To the crowds that Jesus was teaching (the Jewish people), they had the law to help guide them.  Leviticus 19:18 stated:

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

This left a lot of wiggle room, since it only mentioned “anyone among your people”.  The Israelites took this to mean that it ONLY applied to them, thus giving them the opportunity hate their enemies.  But Jesus died for all people:

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Lest we forget, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  And God wants us to display His character for all to see.  Since that is the case, we must love others as God loves them.

Favoritism Forbidden

God shows us that He does not show favoritismJesus died for all; the sun doesn’t only rise on the good (wouldn’t that be an odd sight – if sunlight only fell on the people and their property who were good?  What a dark place the Earth would be!); and the rain doesn’t just fall on the property of the righteous.  God, through His creation and His love, provides for everyone these basic things as an example of His character.

We are quick to love those who are easy to love, and usually not so quick to love those who are difficult to love.  Yet God loves us all.  Peter learned this with the centurion Cornelius and his family.  After God manifested His favor upon them, Peter stated:

…I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism

Otherworldly Outreach

Even the pagans love their own.  We are shown that we need to love with the love of Jesus.  He walked completely out of His way to see a Samaritan woman at a well.  Loving our enemies and people who are hard to love is a Godly characteristic that we all need to display.  We don’t need to go to the deepest, darkest regions of unexplored Africa to do this; we simply need to love the people who we come in contact with.  If we only spend time with our friends and family, how can we display the love of God to people that need to be reached?

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (emphasis and bold added)

Reaching “all nations” starts with your own.  It starts with your own community, then surrounding areas, and wherever you may travel.  It was once said, “If you aren’t engaging in mission work at home, please don’t export that somewhere else.”

Carefully Complete

The phrase, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” can be difficult to understand, since none of us are perfect, and even after we are redeemed by God, we still occasionally sin, whether by sins of commission or omission.  But we need to have a proper reference for this.  In the Greek, the word for “perfect” is teleioi, and is literally translated as mature, complete.  It infers a completeness, and that completeness, with regards to the character of God, is perfection.  Let sanctification through trials complete its work in you that you would be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we loving those who are difficult to love the way that Jesus asks us to love them?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are perfect and complete in all Your ways.  Help me this day that I would be transformed by the renewing of my mind with Your holy word and with the trials that You allow in my life that I would be complete like You.  Strengthen me and soften my heart that I would learn the lessons needed for maturity in life and in faith.  Please have mercy upon me, for all discipline seems unpleasant as I go through it.  Give me a better sense of Your love for others as I encounter an increasingly wicked people everyday.  Help me to engage them, and to show them Your love, regardless of the outcome.  For even Your Son, Jesus Christ, died at the hands of those He was trying to reach.  Show me the straight and narrow path that I would walk on it and see the light of Your Glory.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

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