Love your enemies. Matthew 5:44.
The Saviour's lesson, “Resist not him that is evil,” was a hard saying for the revengeful Jews.... But Jesus now made a still stronger declaration: ...
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44, 45).
Such was the spirit of the law which the rabbis had misinterpreted as a cold and rigid code of exactions. They regarded themselves as better than other men, and as entitled to the special favor of God by virtue of their birth as Israelites; but Jesus pointed to the spirit of forgiving love as that which would give evidence that they were actuated by any higher motives than even the publicans and sinners, whom they despised.
He pointed His hearers to the Ruler of the universe, under the new name, “Our Father.” He would have them understand how tenderly the heart of God yearned over them. He teaches ... that “like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:13). Such a conception of God was never given to the world by any religion but that of the Bible. Heathenism teaches men to look upon the Supreme Being as an object of fear rather than of love—a malign deity to be appeased by sacrifices, rather than a Father pouring upon His children the gift of His love. Even the people of Israel had become so blinded to the precious teaching of the prophets concerning God that this revelation of His paternal love was as an original subject, a new gift to the world....
Every good thing we have, each ray of sunshine and shower of rain, every morsel of food, every moment of life, is a gift of love.
While we were yet unloving and unlovely in character, “hateful, and hating one another,” our heavenly Father had mercy on us....
The children of God are those who are partakers of His nature. It is not earthly rank, nor birth, nor nationality, nor religious privilege, which proves that we are members of the family of God; it is love, a love that embraces all humanity. Even sinners whose hearts are not utterly closed to God's Spirit will respond to kindness; while they may give hate for hate, they will also give love for love. But it is only the Spirit of God that gives love for hatred. To be kind to the unthankful and to the evil, to do good hoping for nothing again, is the insignia of the royalty of heaven, the sure token by which the children of the Highest reveal their high estate.—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 73-75.
From Reflecting Christ - Page 72
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