16 Mar He Chose to Love Enemies (Forty Days with Jesus – Day 4, Feb 20th)
Read Matthew 5:43-47
Thought for the Day: An enemy-turned-friend is an incredible gift!
By the events of Rocky III, it was easy for Rocky Balboa to love the people in his corner like Adrian, Paulie, and Mickey. It was also easy for him to look at the opponents he encountered in the ring and simply resent them. Life seemed to be going pretty well… until things spiraled. In a matter of moments, his manager/trainer Mickey was gone and Rocky had lost in the second round to a young boxer named Clubber Lang. Then something unexpected happened: Rocky’s former opponent, Apollo Creed, showed up and made a surprising offer. While the two boxers had gone years with animosity, Creed offered to help train Rocky and teach him a completely new style.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus shows up offering a completely new perspective and style to the Jewish people: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The Jewish people had gone countless years mistakenly believing that society could be quickly divided into two groups: neighbors and enemies. Unfortunately, this mindset left the people holding onto grudges and resentments rather than experiencing many of the best parts of life.
If we live our lives like Rocky, it is easy to see the ‘people in our corner’ quickly dwindle until we are left feeling bitter and alone. Jesus offers a better way: learn to see that anyone you call an enemy is a person equally loved by God and deserving of respect. While Apollo Creed is not going to show up to your doorstep offering to help, we are called to see that Jesus chose to love everyone, even the people we mistakenly believe are enemies. After all, we never know when someone God has placed in our lives will be an incredibly valuable friend!
Reflect & Pray – Today, am I willing to pray for those I have a hard time with? Am I willing to see that my ‘enemies’ are simply people equally loved by God? God, please give me the strength to stop resenting the people I have a hard time with!