SOAP Devotional 2016-08-29
Scripture – Observation – Application – Prayer
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:43-48 NLT
When Jesus asks, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy”, He knows that there is no actual law in Scripture that says this. There is no Old Testament law that adds in the “and hate your enemy” part of what he asked. It is instead a saying that they had come with on their own. Some teacher had wrongly inferred that if we are to love those we are close to, then the opposite must also be true that we should hate our enemies. This is how false doctrines get started. Instead we are to also love those who have made themselves our enemies, because that is the way our God is and we should act the same. Anyone can hate those who do them wrong and be good to their friends. Doing right in the middle of being done wrong is a demonstration of the real difference it makes when you are a disciple of Christ.
This should not be something we should have to force ourselves to do as believers. What Jesus is talking about is a literal change in who we are at our core being as believers. To hate others, enemy or not, is not part of the new normal when you operate with Christ in you. The point of this passage is not only that there been a false doctrine taught that would allow you to hate, but also in this question, “how are you different from anyone else?” To apply this passage to our lives, we need to allow the new nature God gave us at our salvation no it's love for others to rule in our lives rather than the old flesh and its hatred. This is not something we must force. It is something we received.
Father, let me walk in the love that you have placed in me and not resort to the hatred that the flesh would try to pursue. If I am done wrong, let my actions demonstrate that you really are a part of me rather than me showing a bad side of me.