You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:18 NRSVA
Our relationship with others matters to God. Whilst we will be familiar with verses in the Old Testament that tell Israel to oppose their national enemies when it comes to interpersonal relationships the Old Testament as well as the New Testament teaches us to love our neighbour and even our enemies too.
If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat;
and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink;
Proverbs 25: 21 NRSVA
Jesus taught that we should love not only our neighbours but our enemies and those who persecute you. To Jesus love is active and the challenge for the follower of Jesus is to love all. We are not only to love those who love us, any one can do that, but to love people whether or not that like or love us, or they receive our kindness and love. And then to pray for them too!
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5: 43-48 NRSVA
Given everything we have been through in recent years: the divisiveness of Brexit, the various restrictions and lockdowns, and the dramatic rise in the cost of living it is widely accepted that many people are struggling to trust others. Commentators have written about people being stuck in various states of enemy mode, assuming everyone is against them, even those trying to help. As followers of Jesus, living as our Father in heaven lives showing love and favour to all, can be incredibly challenging. Loving and praying for those who have hurt you can be hard, but encouragingly it is also wonderfully healing.
So today, think of someone who has hurt you or perhaps hurt someone you know and sincerely pray for them.
Father God, today we come before You wanting to reflect Your love into a broken world. Fill our hearts with Your love, and help us to see and hear people as You do. We choose to bring before You those who have hurt us and those we struggle to relate too. We ask for You to bless and favour them, to pour forth Your love and grace into their lives. May they know Your Salvation, Healing, Your Empowerment and Jesus as their Lord. Help us to keep loving and keep praying, and to know Your healing graces and encouragement daily. Amen.
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.