(Red-letter portions of the New Testament)

Matthew 5:43-44, "You have heard it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.' But I tell you: love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute you."

Jesus wasn't saying anything new. The Old Testament never teaches us to hate our enemies. In fact, it teaches us to be kind to our enemies. Job 31:29-20 says, "Have I rejoiced at the extinction of my enemy, or exulted when evil befell him? "No, I have not allowed my mouth to sin by asking for his life in a curse."

But, some people in Jesus' day, even religious folks, tried to justify hating their enemies by twisting God's Law or adding to the Law, where it was silent. Sometimes we want to do the same thing. If we can't get revenge, legally, we get even on social media or in business contacts.

Church folks can be just as guilty as anyone. We may hold a grudge or withhold our help to get revenge. We may say, "I told you so," with an air of satisfaction or "Serves them right," with a sense of self-righteous piety, or gloat when a critic falls. But even the Old Testament warns not to gloat over a fallen enemy, for the Lord will see and disapprove.

Jesus not only disapproves of gloating and revenge, He tells us to go even further then the Old Testament standard of doing good to our enemies. Jesus says, "Love your enemies."

Jesus says we must treat them in a loving manner. Jesus may have to help us open our hearts to those who have hurt us, but in the meantime, He stills expects us to treat them in a loving way. he expects us to bless them and not curse them, privately and publicly. He also tells us to pray for them. Pray for your enemy. He may become your friend."

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