Scripture Reading:

Matthew 5:43-48

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He . . . sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:44-45

Caring for our own is one of our most powerful motivations. We tend to love those who are closest to us, including ourselves. And anything or anyone who hurts us or our loved ones becomes our enemy.

Jesus observed that the people around him had a saying: “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” People felt that love was wasted on strangers, and love for people who hurt or threatened them was doubly wasted.

But Jesus came to reveal the character of God, our Creator who loves and cares for us all. He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. God is our good Father who richly provides all things for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). In the original Greek language of the New Testament, there is a specific word describing love that does not seek personal gain: agapé. Throughout the Bible we find that this is the kind of love God shows us.

God sent his beloved, one and only Son to die for us when we were his enemies (Romans 5:10). And Jesus—God’s gift to his enemies—calls us to show this same kind of love. We cannot produce this kind of love by ourselves, but we receive it from God—as freely as the sun shines on us. And we are called to share it freely with every­one around us.

Loving and gracious God, we worship you as our Creator and sustainer. Thank you for the love you have shown to us in Jesus. Help us to love others as you have loved us. Amen.

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