"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 that despitefully use you, and persecute you;" Matthew 5:44
I remember preaching this in Redland Florida. It was their first Sunday as they had just split off from another church in Princeton Florida. I was not taking sides, but their newly formed church board had chosen two candidates to be their new pastor and I was one of them. As you can imagine, this is quite an honor and I was selected to preach the first sermon of their first service. I talked to God about this as I was searching through the scriptures attempting in my mind to try to find something conciliatory and comforting to bless this newly formed group of believers. I perused through some of my previous sermon material, thinking that maybe there would be something that fit the day. But God would not let me get away from this very verse. I really thought that this verse was inappropriate because of the recent church split, again of which I was not involved. And furthermore, everyone likes to hear these words of God's true way for man to live at peace with one another, but few follow these ego crushing words spoken by Jesus to the whole world at the sermon on the mount.
I wrestled with this verse, because I knew deep down inside that it was so much the heart of God to teach His people how to live with one another in harmony and peace and how to live with the world at large even though the world at large was not going to play by the same rules. What could this verse possibly benefit a newly formed group of seasoned believers? I did preach the sermon and it wasn't received well. I guess I will never know why this was so important, and by the way, they chose the other pastor to lead their flock. But I can tell you now that Jesus knows what works and these words were written to embed your soul with the heart of God and this is the heart of God.
Unfortunately as you read in yesterdays daily devotional, even our Christian brothers and sisters are capable of doing frightful things to their fellow church members or anyone for that matter. Hear the heart of God on the matter. He has instructed you to do a few things that go against your human propensities.
Love your enemies
Bless them that curse you
Do good to them that hate you
Pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you
You will have to read these over and over again until your inner man believes it is true. This is an uphill battle and if you are not serious about following Christ, you will not win it. It goes against our very nature, that nature that we were born with that looks out for number one. But Jesus spoke it and that makes it true. Why is it important to believe and practice these strange commands? It is important to God and God made us to be like Jesus and nothing else will do.