Love Your Enemies
have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet
only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
When we contemplate the six authoritative teachings of Jesus in vv 21–48, we must agree with Luther’s verdict: “At this point you will discover how hard it is to
do the good works God commands.… You will find out that you will be occupied with the practice of this work for the rest of your life” (AE 44:109). Some people, when confronted with the strict demands of the Law, will whittle off a point here,
another there. They suggest that we do the best we can, and God will be satisfied. But God demands perfection, which sinners cannot achieve (cf Rm 7:21–25; 1Tm 1:15). Our perfection is in Christ alone. As God’s redeemed people, Jesus declares that
we are salt of the earth and light of the world.
I pray: Heavenly Father, though I often fall short of Your perfection, forgive my sins for Jesus’
sake, and strengthen me for greater service. Amen.