But I Say to You

“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, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5: 43-45

In Matthew 5, Jesus turns the religious ideals of the day on their head. Throughout the later part of the chapter, we see Him discuss a range of topics concerning personal relationships (and maybe not the fun ones including murder, adultry, divorce, and enemies–yikes!). While his followers had a clear understanding of what they should and shouldn’t do thanks to the religious authorities, Jesus takes things a step further.

He repeatedly uses the phrase “You have heard it said […] But I tell you […]” and as I read each command, I’m amazed at how Jesus’s commands take the way of love.

  • Instead of saying murder is bad, Jesus tells us even anger keeps us from God and that we should reconcile with those who we are fighting with (v. 21-26).
  • Instead of saying adultery is bad, Jesus tells us that even lust keeps us from God and that we should remove ourselves from temptation (v. 27-30).
  • Instead of saying divorce can happen for any reason, Jesus tells us that broken relationships are not his intent and to do so out of selfish reasons hurts multiple people (v. 31-32).
  • Instead of saying not to swear an oath so as not to break your promise, Jesus tells us not to swear on anything but simply let our yes be a yes and our no be a no (v. 33-37).
  • Instead of saying revenge is okay, Jesus tells us to go above and beyond showing grace to those who hurt us (v. 38-42).
  • And instead of saying to love our neighbors and hate our enemies, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (v. 43-45).

None of these commands from Jesus are easy. In fact, I think they require a ton of help from Him and other followers of Jesus to accomplish them.

But that is the amazing thing about Jesus’s upside kingdom. With His help, we are able to love others well because we put them before ourselves. We might not be on the verge of murder or revenge, but I’m sure we all have anger, hatred, and other ugly emotions bubbling below the surface from time to time. When these feelings arise, we can stop, turn to God and His people, and ask for help to live a better way.

We can choose to love instead of hate, bless instead of curse, and in doing so show others the grace we have received from Jesus ourselves.

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