The Process of Forgiving – Part IV
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38-48
Key Verse: Matthew 5:44
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.
Take a minute and read today’s Scripture Reading. These verses are part of The Sermon on the Mount and are important to our “Kingdom Fitness” because they lay out how the New Testament rules of behavior are different than those in the Old Testament.
Jesus’s audience for The Sermon on the Mount were primarily Jewish people who were familiar with the Old Testament scriptures. Jesus directed His teachings at them so that they might change their mindset about the way a Christ-follower is to behave.
Matthew 5:29-48 is really about forgiveness.
In the Old Testament, we could pursue revenge with the rule: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:23–27). And it was easier in the sense that the Old Testament did not explicitly advocate for us to love our enemies.
But when Jesus saves us by our faith, we are to live like Jesus teaches us to live. Therefore, we are not to take revenge but “not resist an evil person… if they slap you on your right cheek, offer the other cheek”. And if we are interacting with someone that behaves like an enemy, “we are to love them, not hate them and pray for those who do bad things toward us”.
When a person who has not received Jesus into their life reads this section of The Sermon on the Mount, they may not imagine being able to follow His teachings. And for us who have received Jesus, we know it is possible but realize that we need the Holy Spirit’s help.
The key to our success in this area is found in Matthew 5:44 where Jesus tells us to pray for those who are causing us trouble. It is impossible to pray sincerely for someone and hate them at the same time. When we simply pray sincerely for those who are hurting us, God slowly drains the hatred from our hearts.
For my prayer to be sincere, I must be honest with God about how I really feel about a person. But in that admission, God understands that I cannot truly forgive without Him working in my mind and heart.
The good news is, God can and will do the work in us as we are obedient to Him.
Father, I want to live a life of forgiveness toward others because I know how many times You have forgiven me. I ask this in Jesus’s Name, amen.