2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
Hebrews 4:12 ESV
Matthew 5:43 ESV
Matthew 5:44-47 ESV
Leviticus 19:18 ESV
It’s kind of funny how I can read the same scripture that I’ve read a hundred times and see something totally new and different.
My dad taught me to read scripture with a new set of eyes while I pray and listen. He believed that scripture is alive. Even when I was little he taught me that scripture is God-breathed.
He told me to sit in silence and listen as I read. He taught me to pray to ask for understanding and insight.
I wish I could say that I did everything he taught me, but I can’t. I was young and ‘busy”.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
The good news is that at some point I did start to learn to sit in silence and I learned to listen as I read scripture. I did pray for understanding and insight.
Around the time I turned 25, I took his words seriously.
Oh, and by the way scientists now believe the human brain is fully formed around the age of 25. I can’t help but believe that taking my dad’s words seriously when I was 25 years old was an accident.
In Hebrews 4:12, we are told, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
For several decades I’ve been practicing what my dad taught me about scripture.
Every day in every way God never disappoints when it comes to scripture.
Scripture is living and active.
Scripture pierces my soul clear to the bone.
Scripture discerns our thoughts and intentions.
Through the movement of the Spirit it is alive.
So, today as I studied and read (re-read Matthew 5:43, I saw it in a new light.
God showed me a new way…new truth.
In Matthew 5:43 Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
In Leviticus 19:18 Moses wrote, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
I prayed and listened…
Through this series as I studied the words I’ve read before I’ve been struck by the same thought that was written in the Old Testament and completed in the New Testament. Nothing about the words Moses wrote are wrong. Nothing changed.
But suddenly everything changed.
The words from the old covenant are true. We are not to take vengeance. God does not want us to bear a grudge.
The intend was and is that we will love our neighbor as ourselves, but when Jesus taught on the Mountain to His Hebrew friends and neighbors, He looked into their faces. He saw them. He knew them.
In Matthew 5:44-47, he wrote the words of Jesus, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is 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 do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Love your enemies enough to pray for them. Even if the persecute you, pray for them.
BE sons and daughters in God. Life is hard. The sun rises and sets on the good and on the bad. The rain comes to both. So, if you love the good people you know, what changes you? They are easy to love because they love you.
The hard thing to do is to love someone you despise. Pray for someone who really needs your prayers. Invest yourself in someone who HAS no love because they don’t know what real love looks like.
They are not sitting here on the mountain. They don’t know they are welcome here…they have no one to tell them they ARE loved.
Jesus reminded his friends and neighbors they weren’t going the extra mile to love strangers and enemies. He reminded them even the Gentiles do as much.
Comparing their actions to the Gentiles would have been a low blow to His fellow Hebrew friends. Once again, I would love to have been there to see the look on their faces.
Some were appalled. Some outraged. Some were hurt that Jesus compared them to the Gentiles.
But then they looked into His eyes. The Spirit moved them that day on the mountain. They somehow knew that Jesus wasn’t being mean or cruel. Jesus really wanted them to love even their enemies.
Jesus wanted them to love and to boldly give their love away. He wanted them to care enough to risk doing the unthinkable, the undone, and the untried.
Jesus wanted them to love each other the same way they loved their Hebrew neighbors. This was diversity at its best.
Jesus wanted them to love like they loved God with open hands and an open heart.
Jesus wanted them to LOVE…
Spiritual Practice: Love the Unlovable
I suspect this practice might be difficult, but if you accept this challenge, ask God to give you love for someone in your life who is unlovable.
In God, Deborah