Sunday, March 25, 2012

One Minute Devotion: Matthew 5:43&44

Matthew 5:43&44

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;

Even as, I write this, I can feel the butterflies well in anticipation of being tested by God of my resolve and commitment to His scriptural principles. What a positively absurd command to love your enemies, bless them, do good to and for them, and pray for them. Especially when human nature compels us to the opposite. In the last devotion, we examined forgiveness and its core grace. Now we move beyond to forgiving and loving those who deliberately seek to wound us. God is not referencing those who may inadvertently wrong us or malign us in some minor way. God is commanding us to show sincere mercy and compassion to the those who consciously work to spite, manipulate, or hurt us. It is a tall spiritual order, impossible with one key element. One can not love his or her enemies through the care they possess. Without an intimate relationship with the creator, the only designation of love that can be demonstrated is eros, and that serves absolutely no purpose in this precept. Eros is romantic or passionate love that can easily become lust when sin is added to the recipe. Philia and Agape love come directly from God and can not exist without His presence. Philia is brotherly love and Agape is the unconditional, unexplainable, unmistakeable love that emanates from God and through Him alone. It is God's Agape love that provided us the grace of salvation. It is Philia love used to love our neighbors, Christian brothers and sisters, family and friends. It is the perfect combination of the two that allows us to see past the injury and pain that our enemies may deliver. To forgive and love them as God loves us. Yes, I said, as God loves us. It seems impossible to love an enemy that way, but God, through His word, tells us, without deviance, that through Him, all of His principles are possible. To make it even more intense, God instructs us to go beyond love and forgiveness but to bless, do good, and pray for them. In its entirety, it is an impossibility without God's intervention. How does this make any sense? The analysis is more clear and concise than one may think. Before grace one is the enemy of God dedicated solely to living in sin, obsessed and addicted to it. There is utterly no reason for God to love or forgive us because we serve no purpose to serve Him. Man is a headstrong, rebellious, prideful, and foolish being who first and foremost aim is his or her own selfish agenda. A problem child who will take a lifetime to mold and shape into any form of usefulness and practicality for a supreme God. Why waste the time? Why not eliminate this burden and start from scratch? The simple and unbelievable answer is love, God's perfect love. He loves us so much He sacrificed Himself so that we may be reunited with Him, saved from the ultimate consequence of sin that we have earned and deserved. That end is eternal death and relentless horror. Not only did His love provide us the grace to save us, but He blesses us, does continual good for us, intercedes for us, protects and provides for us. What an awesome God we serve. If we accept all this, then why would we question His direction to do the same for our enemies through Him. Take it one step further, how can we minster to a world that hates us because of how we believe if we do not love those we strive to see God save? Evangelism would be dead without a love for a people trapped and blinded by sin. Just as we were. How are we any better than a lost world if not for God's love? With that said, is loving our enemies easy? Emphatically no, for God it is because He is God. For us, it is a gradual, continuous process that requires a completely committed process of submission to the Almighty and prayer. One has to decide to surrender the hurt and damage to God for Him to heal and repair. To leave it all at the altar and seek God to fill us with His love so that we may demonstrate the grace that He so freely gave us. It is not easy, but it is what defines us as His children. It requires total sincerity and integrity, abandoning grudges and emotion, and solely trusting in God to provide us the tools to succeed. As it is in every aspect of a real relationship with the author of life. When Christ was asked who would die for a people who fail time and time again, he did not raise his hand to volunteer he spread them wide and allowed the nails of hate and sin to be driven through them. It is the ultimate act of love in its truest form. We have access to the love if we desire and seek it. If we obtain it, what an amazing work we can do in furthering God's grace and His kingdom. Please God, give me the strength to live the words I have written and those You have blessed us with.

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