Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Sermon On The Mount (Part 14)
Love Those You Hate
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV)
In the Old Testament, Jonah rose as a reluctant hero with a powerful message: show love to those you hate. Because Jonah hated the cruel men of Nineveh; they were enemies of Israel. God told Jonah to warn the Ninevites before their coming destruction. But Jonah did not want them warned. He wanted them destroyed.
So 'Jonah ran away from the Lord' (Jonah 1:3). He got on a ship, but God brought killing winds against it. Jonah confessed: 'Pick me up and throw me into the sea... and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you' (Jonah 1:12). He ended up in the belly of a giant fish.
Because Jonah sacrificed himself to save others, God saved him. Although his heart was still torn, Jonah obeyed God. He warned the Ninevites, and 'They turned from their evil ways' (Jonah 3:10). Their city was spared. 'But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry' (Jonah 4:1).
Jonah had a lot of trouble showing love to those he hated. To him, God's mercy seemed incomprehensible. God's response to Jonah: 'Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left?' (Jonah 4:11).
Like Jonah, actors, models and talent for Christ have been given a Great Commission: to love their enemies. Unlike Jonah, you bring good news from a King he had not met. But instead of 120,000 confused people in Nineveh, you face billions of confused people--via Hollywood.
Many have done hateful and harmful things--to themselves and to others. It's tempting to avoid them altogether. It's tempting to want them punished. It's tempting to hang with your homies. But God directs otherwise. Because we serve a God 'Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth' (1 Timothy 2:4).
You know this Truth. His Name is Jesus. Through your love (especially when hatred seems the reasonable choice), they will meet Him--and many will believe.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Sermon On The Mount series.