But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44)
The sermon on the mount is one of the many beautiful teachings of Jesus. It is a place in the Word of God, on which we can dwell for sound, righteous advice from our Saviour.
He begins the chapter with The Beatitudes and shows His disciples what it means to be blessed and under which means blessings are distributed. Another word which can be used for the word “blessed” in the beatitudes is happy. So Jesus also tells His disciples about what it means to be happy. These beatitudes are indeed relevant to us today, so take a read in verses 3 to 12.
He later moves on in verse 13 and tells them about “Salt and Light”. He informs them that they/we are the salt and light of this world. Firstly, we know that salt is very important. You always hear the “old-timers” saying that they use to use salt to heal wounds. Nowadays salt still remains a cure with saline solution (salt water solution), with its high content of salt being used in hospitals to flush wounds, abrasions and many other things.
We know that as Caribbean people, some of us can’t cook without salt. It’s actually a crime for some people to eat saltless food. Salt seasons food and gives it savour. Even cakes require a pinch of salt and if we exclude it, it’s just not the same.
Similarly, we must understand that we are here on this earth to bring healing to the broken and the wounded and when situations seem to be going bitter or sour, our words and actions must be that (the salt) which positively changes things around and brings encouragement to those around us. For we are the salt of the earth.
Jesus also says we are the “light” of this world in verse 14. Light gives direction and dispels all darkness. We are called as Christians to give direction with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the dispel all darkness with our thoughts, words and deeds.
If you haven’t been seeing yourself as light and salt, it’s not too late. God can help you make any change, once it’s your heart’s desire.
There are sooo many other things which Jesus talks to His disciples about in chapter 5 (fulfilment of the law, adultery, divorce…and the list goes on), but in verse 43 He tells them about loving their enemies.
The truth is, enemies make it very hard for them to be loved, but Jesus who is the Counsellor, says that it must be done. We can never be the light and the salt of this world is we do not love our enemies. Enemies come in many forms; so-called friends, work colleagues, bosses and even family members/husbands and wives.
As Christians our role is to be kind to one and all. This can be challenging especially when you have to deal with persons who are bent on being mean to you. Nevertheless, we serve a God who causes mountains to melt like wax, who heals the sick, causes the lame to walk and the blind to see. With our God nothing shall be impossible and since He confirms that we are more than conquerers, we have all that it takes to love everyone…even our enemies. We can do it!
In Verse 43 Jesus reminds them of something that from childhood we have been trained to do. He said:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy (NIV)
How many times have you been told to hate and ignore those who hate you? How many times have you heard or even said, if she/he doesn’t like me, I don’t like them neither?
Today, God is asking us for a turn-around. God is asking us to love, bless and pray for our enemies as Jesus outlines in verse 44:
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (NIV)
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to
them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and
persecute you; (KJV)
This is also confirmed again in Luke 6: 28:
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you
Why does He want is to do this?
The answer is given in verse 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.
If you consider yourself a Christ-ian (which means called by Christ’s name/Christ-like), then you must do these things and be “like Christ”.
Loving your enemy, doing well to those who hate you and persecute you is just a sign of being Christ-like. These characteristics define Jesus in us; who again represents the salt and the light within that we are supposed to spread around this world. Jesus did all these things which He is commanding His disciples, and now us today, to do.
Remember He said in John 14: 12: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
So if Jesus loved His enemies, we can do it too because we have the power to do it. This is what He has told us. Just look at His behaviour before and during the cross.
Jesus doesn’t stop at verse 44. He continues by saying the act of loving our enemies is simply a move towards being “perfect” in Christ.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
None of us are perfect, and this is true since we all make mistakes, but there is a level of perfection which we can pursue in simply seeking to do/pursuing what is right in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
This word “perfect” is defined in Greek as “complete”. So Jesus is telling His disciples and by extension us today, that we must pursue being “complete” in Him through loving everyone, including our enemies. We must pursue being complete as Christians. You cannot be “completely” Christian if you don’t love those who curse and persecute you. In the end Jesus confirms that there is great reward for being obedient to God by loving our enemies.
Are you ready to be complete? Are you ready to pursue perfection in the things of God? Are you ready to love like you never loved before? Are you ready to be the salt and light you have been called to be?
Heavenly Father we thank You for Your Word which is true. It is a light for my feet and indeed a light to my path. Father I come boldly before You and I repent for all the times I have mistreated my enemies. I am sorry for all the times I have snobbed and refused to be kind to those who persecute me. There are times where I have neglected to pray for and bless them, but Father I come to You now because I want change. I want to be complete in You so that my light can shine and I can be the salt of this world which You have called me to be.
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I speak to my atmosphere and I command change for the better because You have already given me the Power through the Holy Spirit to be better. I accept that power. I confess that I need Your strength so that I do not walk in the ways of my past. Father I thank You for forgiving me, for helping me and leading me into a greater future where love abounds in my life in every situations. Thank You for Your strength in this new walk of being a complete Christian. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.