Faith Daily | 27 February 2021
PRAYER of the WEEK Lent One
O Lord, who for our sake fasted forty days and forty nights:
give us grace to use such abstinence,
that, our flesh being subdued to the spirit,
we may ever obey your godly will
in righteousness and true holiness;
to your honour and glory,
who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Amen APBA p482
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 5: 43-48
43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,* what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by Rev'd David
Many, if not all of us, might feel a bit uncomfortable about committing to Jesus’ command to ”love your enemies”. Indeed I suspect that would have been the case for Jesus’ listeners.
The OT Law in Leviticus 19:18 records the commandment that Jesus addresses here, “love your neighbour as yourself”, but He identifies the distortion in meaning of this that had developed over time to apply it to only those who love you or are kind to you. The irony of a command that meant only that, is that no one needs to tell us to love those who love us, that is a natural response. And when Jesus says that they had heard it said “love your neighbour and hate your enemy” (verse 43), He straight away assigns this interpretation of the OT Law to distorted human interpretation, for the phrase “hate your enemy” is nowhere to be found in the OT Law.
So what has happened here is that the so called “experts in the law” had changed it’s meaning into something they wanted it to mean. We must be very careful not to do the same thing with God’s word today. The truth is found only in God’s word (John 17:17), “that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
Jesus teaches the real meaning of this OT Law, and in doing so, declares His own divine authority, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
He gives two significant reasons for doing this. First, loving our enemies is evidence of our commitment to Godly living. In obeying this command, we are witnessing to the great truth that God’s love is open to all humanity, demonstrated in His giving the sunlight and the rain to both “the evil and the good”. And secondly, loving our enemies is evidence of our commitment to set our lives in the pursuit of the very best, the character and love of our Heavenly Father (verse 43). We will fail at times, but there is always forgiveness and a new start to get us back on track again.
As I reflect on this passage, it comes as an ongoing challenge, but I am thankful that Jesus commands us to focus our lives only on the best, which is found in the character of God revealed in Him.
FINAL PRAYER: from Rev’d Sandra
following your example and command,
we pray for our enemies today.
We ask that you would saturate our lives
with your Holy Spirit
and send your love to flow through us.
Forgive us for holding on to anything
that could hinder our prayers.
Give us wisdom as we seek how
to bless, to love, and to pray for our enemies.
We pray you would show them and us mercy,
in knowledge that we were all enemies of God,
before you extended your mercy to us.
We ask this in your holy name.