Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God today commands you to observe these laws and customs; you must keep and observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.
‘You have today made this declaration about the Lord: that he will be your God, but only if you follow his ways, keep his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and listen to his voice. And the Lord has today made this declaration about you: that you will be his very own people as he promised you, but only if you keep all his commandments; then for praise and renown and honour he will set you high above all the nations he has made, and you will be a people consecrated to the Lord, as he promised.’
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
“Pray for those who persecute you”
Conventional wisdom teaches us that we should love our neighbours and hate our enemies but Jesus teaches us to be different and to choose to love our enemies.
We are called Christians because we believe in Jesus Christ. We have received Grace from God, and Grace is the undeserved favour from God. This is a gift from God and can NEVER be earned no matter how much we try. Because of this Grace, we need to love those around us, even if they do nothing to deserve it. We need to learn not to be like that unmerciful servant! (Matthew 18:21-35) God’s grace simply demands that we be infinitely merciful.
And yet, forgiveness of our enemies frees us to better love God and to become even more intimate with him!
Two priests were travelling on a muddy road when they came across a beautiful young woman trying to cross the intersection but unable to because of the mud puddles. “Come”, said the older priest and carried the girl on his back to the other side. The other priest was shocked as priests were not allowed to touch members of the opposite gender, but chose to keep quiet.
The two priests went on their way and unable to bear it any longer, the younger priest protested when the day ended. “Father”, the young man began, “we priests are not allowed to have any physical contact with members of the opposite sex, and yet you carried the girl across the road?”. The other priest looked at the younger one bemused, saying “I had left the girl at the intersection and yet you have carried her all the way here with you!”
Brothers and Sisters, let us remember that like God, we need to learn to be merciful and love those around us. It is only through this that we ourselves can grow more in love and intimacy with our God.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)
Prayer – God, we pray that we may learn to set our grudges against our enemies at Your feet. We ask that You may help us learn to be kind, loving and forgiving, just like You have been kind, loving and forgiving with us. Help us to continue to walk in Your ways.
Thanksgiving – Father God, we thank you for being infinitely merciful to us and for showing us how to get closer to You. Thank you for filling us with the ability to love ourselves and to love others.