Love Your Enemies by Tony Nester

Love Your Enemies
Tony Nester
Matthew 5:43-48

(Matthew 5:43-48 NRSV) ""You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' {44} But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, {45} so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. {46} For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? {47} And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? {48} Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Do you know the story of the woman who was bitten by a rabid dog, and went to the doctor too late? The doctor said, "I'm sorry, there is nothing more I can do for you." Immediately she sat at a table and began to write lists of names. The doctor, trying to be empathetic, kept handing here more paper. Finally he said, "My, that is a long will you are writing." "Will, nothing," she said. "These are all the people I'm going to bite."

That woman isn't so strange, is she? It's human nature to strike out against our enemies. But Jesus leads us down a different path. He says, "Love your enemies." His words are one of the hardest sayings in the Sermon on the Mount.

The Jews had a saying: "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." It was based on Jewish Law as found, for example, in Leviticus 19:18: "... you shall love your neighbor as yourself..." (Leviticus 19:18 NRSV).

The Jewish law used the word "neighbor" differently than we use the word. For us our "neighbor" is the person who lives next door to us or across the street. But in the Jewish Law your "neighbor" was someone who shared your beliefs and lived in a religious covenant with you. In other words, if the person next door to you didn't share your religion, that person was not your "neighbor ...

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