March Like Jesus
… In Our Behavior – Part VII
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:43-48
Key Verse: Matthew 5:44
“But I say, love your enemies! (Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you.) Pray for those who persecute you!”
Let me remind you that March’s devotional is a study of Jesus’s first and longest sermon. These three chapters of Matthew’s Gospel are commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus is giving His followers “marching orders” that He expects them to follow! Those who first heard this sermon probably felt overwhelmed at the number of instructions that Jesus was giving them. Jesus knew that God fills those who believe with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reminds believers of these truths and helps them live them out in this world.
I want to remind you of God’s available help before we study today’s Scripture Reading. Jesus knew that everyone in the world would not love His followers, and He wants us to know how to manage our critics.
Jesus’s marching orders for today are really challenging to most Christ-followers: “love our enemies, bless people who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who persecute us!” These are well known “marching orders” but are some of the toughest to live out.
Maybe you don’t feel you have enemies. But think about the definition of the word “enemy”: a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone (Oxford languages). You likely have engaged with someone who opposed you and maybe was hostile toward you.
This person might live with you, be a co-worker, neighbor, or a person at your church. You may not think of them as an enemy, but perhaps you have struggled in knowing how to handle them. Maybe they were opposing you or your ideas and became antagonistic.
Did you ask yourself: How do I love this person? Did you bless them rather than engage in an argument? Did you try to do something good for them? Have you spent time in prayer for them? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then you understand how hard these “marching orders” from Jesus are!
As I said earlier, the good news is that there is help from the Holy Spirit for all of us who have given our lives to Jesus.
When someone opposes you and becomes antagonistic toward you, the Spirit can help you resist the urge to fight back.
Though we do not like to deal with these situations, they really are perfect situations for us to shine a light on what it means to be a Christ-follower. These situations open a door to practice what we preach and prove our identity to Jesus.
Remember, people around you know that you belong to Jesus when you demonstrate these “marching orders” to those who oppose you!
Father, help me to take every opportunity to show love and do good to those who oppose me or are hostile toward me. In Jesus’s Name I pray, amen.