Scripture: Matthew 5:21-26, 38-48
Observation: Jesus demonstrates how he expects us to love others in a truly radical, unorthodox way. He encourages us to rid ourselves of all anger and to reconcile others quickly. He demands that we love the people who are against us, noting that’s what differentiates us as children of God.
Application: Take yourself back to your middle school years. Remember them? The seemingly never ending years of braces and acne and puberty and awkward hairstyles? (I’m sorry to bring you back there. Middle school was THE WORST.)
As if being suspended between adolescence and adulthood wasn’t bad enough on it’s own, there were always people who made middle school downright miserable – the bullies and the gossipers and the know-it-alls and the Queen Bees. They teased us, taunted us, spread lies about us. They were often rude and petty and sometimes downright hurtful. They covered up their insecurities with facades that deepened our insecurities. They hated us, so we did what any normal seventh grader would do: we hated them right back.
Hate is a vicious cycle. It’s a breeding ground for animosity, a foundation for division. It separates, it amplifies flaws, it generates more of itself.
And Jesus won’t stand for it.
If there’s one thing Jesus hates, it’s hate itself. And he made it clear: we choose love.
“’But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44-45)
For all of us that consider ourselves followers of Jesus, we've got to catch this “family rule”: we love. We love. We love when it’s easy and when it’s hard, when it’s fair and when it’s unfair, when we receive the love we desire and when we don’t.
We don’t love because others deserve it. We love because we’re children of God.
“If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:47)
Let’s raise our standard. Let’s rise above the hate. Let’s rise above the remarks that hurt us, the manipulation that deceived us, the scars that wounded us.
We can rise – with the power of Jesus in us and the love of the Father flowing through us.
Prayer: God, I pray you fill me with a supernatural love. With your Spirit in me, I pray you’ll soften my heart towards those who hurt me. Replace bitterness with joy. Replace resentment with forgiveness. Help me rise above. Amen.