Today’s Bible Reading:

Genesis 13:5-15:21
Matthew 5:27-48
Psalm 6:1-10
Proverbs 1:29-33

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Matthew 5:44 (NLT): “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

If someone asked you to provide a list of the distinguishing differences between contemporary Christians and non-Christians, how would you respond? What would you identify as the things that set them apart?

As we look around us (and within us) for the answer, we may be tempted to say that there isn’t much of a difference in behavior. It would seem that the only difference is that Christians are trusting in Jesus and non-Christians are not. But if this response accurately conveys the state of contemporary Christendom, it flies in the face of true, biblical Christianity.

A simple description of what a Jesus-follower looks like can be found in Matthew 5-7. Those three chapters, commonly called “The Sermon on the Mount,” reveal the counter-cultural, counter-intuitive behaviors that set Christians apart from the rest of the world.

They are counter-cultural because they aren’t the way the sinful world-system would respond. They are counter-intuitive because they are often very different from how Jesus-followers would respond if they weren’t familiar with the content in their Bibles.

So, we aren’t surprised when we hear Jesus say in Matthew 5:44 that we must love those who set themselves against us.

Matthew 5:44 (NLT): “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

It’s counter-cultural because a sinful world system advocates responses such as anger, revenge, and unforgiveness toward those who are against us. It’s counter-intuitive because we don’t find it easy to love our enemies, who persecute us.

What does “love” mean? It calls us to see the value in someone. It calls us to help them, even to sacrifice for them, if they are in trouble or have a legitimate need.

Loving our enemies is the last thing that we desire to do. Yet, this is exactly how a Jesus-follower should act. We should love everyone, including those who hate us and harm us.

Why? Why should we do what makes no sense to a sinful world system? Why should we do what seems so difficult, even impossible for us?

Matthew 5:43-47 (NLT): “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?”

A Jesus-follower demonstrates a striking family resemblance to his/her Heavenly Father. They do so because they read and study their Bibles so that they know how to think and act. Then, they make the necessary adjustments and obey what their Father tells them to believe and do.

In doing so, they make it much easier for others to see the difference in them when compared to unbelievers.

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