In Matthew 5: 44-45, “Love your enemy” is a horizontal effort: the act of kindness a compassion that is man-ward. “Pray for those that persecute you” is a vertical affair, the act of petitioning heaven-ward for those who mistreat you. This makes the act of the Christian forgiving completed, “in earth as it is in heaven”.
That God makes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust, and rain to fall on the good and evil, shows us that His goodness is not confined to the righteous and withheld from those who hate Him. This is the example of how we are supposed to love those who offend us in our worst possible moment. Mad? Angry? Hurting? Frustrated? Disgusted? It doesn’t affect how we treat people.
God, the judge of all, wants us to remember four things about when we are offended: There is a time for retribution, and it is not now. There is a place for revenge, and this is not place. There is someone to handle our revenge, and it is not us. But mostly, there is no excuse for us treating ANYONE, regardless of what they do to us, with less than love, kindness and compassion. Not for Christians, anyway.
We are bound by our forgiveness, which we are instructed to not withhold, not from anybody. We trust God completely with our offenses. Vengeance is His, and when and how to hand it out is His completely (Romans 12:19).
Imagine if someone owed you $100 and you owed someone $100,000,000. What if the one you owed said He would forgive you of your debt if you forgave the one that owed you? Only a fool would not jump at that deal. God has told us He is forgiving us a lifetime of offenses, disrespect, lack of surrender, selfishness, idolatry, adultery, etc. and asks us to forgive single deeds of others.
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
From Wednesday Night’s Bible Study, November 28, 2012.
For audio sermons from Pastor Tim: sermon.net/desdemonatx.