You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:43–44
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made six different statements that began “You have heard it said,” followed by his own teaching that began “But I say to you.” Jesus took the old laws and judgments and held his followers to a much higher standard. In this passage of scripture, Jesus commanded his followers to confront the world and those in it with overflowing generosity, self-sacrifice, and heartfelt care. We are called to tend to the world and our relationships as God does, sending blessings and serving as a blessing to the good and the bad, the righteous and the unrighteous, the faithful and the faithless alike. We are to give better than we get from others, because we have received far better that we deserve from God. That was the way of Jesus, and Jesus preached that it become our way too.
When will you need to turn the other cheek today?
Lord, You call us to perfection—You call us to live like You…and we are not sure that is possible for us. When struck we feel empowered to fight back, when abused we get abusive, and when hurt we quickly respond in ways that allow us to collect a lot of eyes and teeth. It’s not that we don’t know any other way to live, it’s just that we are fearful that if we do as You say, we will pay a cost too heavy to bear. You tell us to be perfect like God is perfect…and that bar seems far too high for us to clear. What are we to do? Help us with a first step. Help us to set an example of generosity that we know our world needs, even if we are reluctant to offer it. In Your name, we pray. AMEN.