The Hardest Commandment

“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, so that you may be children of you Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends right on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what rewards do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than the others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.”

Matthew 5:43-48

Love your enemies is probably the hardest command Jesus gave us. Pray for those who persecute you, He said. How difficult! It’s so against our natures to be kind to somebody who is mean to us, never mind loving them. Yet, that’s what Jesus tells us to do. And He is so right.

From the logical point of view, Jesus says, “Well even the tax collectors love the people who love them. Aren’t you better than the tax collectors?” If we hate the people who hate us and only love those who love us back, how are we any better than the rest of the world? As Christians, shouldn’t we be better than that?

Jesus also said, “Look, God makes the sun rise and the rains fall on your enemies as well as you.” God loves everyone, not just the righteous. Who are you to say you won’t love someone who God loves? Are you above God? Heaven knows you aren’t perfect, and some people don’t like you. But God loves you anyway. Can’t we be more like God? Love everyone!

And that’s the last thing Jesus says in chapter five. “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” And while that may be a tall order, we can at least try. We can try to love our enemy, try to turn the other cheek, try not to make oaths, try not to look upon others with lust, try not to get angry. We can only do our best, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be trying to make our best even better.

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