“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
If someone hit you—I mean really hit you—what kind of emotions would you feel in that moment? I can imagine a list of emotions like shock… anger… hurt… but I can’t imagine “love” would be one of them. There isn’t much gray area for human beings. We tend to love people who love us, but we also tend to hate people who disagree with us or cause us trouble.
That’s what makes Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 5 so difficult. He says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” So the question is, “Why would Jesus ask us to do something that seems so illogical?”
Well, let’s take a look at the love God has shown to us. In his Word, our God is clear that he demands perfection from us. That means no sin—not even one. And he’s also clear that these demands aren’t just for show. There are consequences. God tells in Ezekiel 18, “Every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.” And that deserved death is so much worse than a heart that stops beating and a body that turns to dust. It refers to eternal death in a horrible place called hell (See Matthew 25:41). Would you expect God to show love to imperfect human beings like you and me? No way! That would be the last thing we’d expect! That would be completely illogical!
And there’s your answer. God’s love IS illogical. I’d try to explain it in my own words but I can’t do it as well as God does through the Apostle Paul. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:1-5)
God’s love isn’t logical. Not at all! We certainly didn’t deserve our God’s love, and yet in sending Jesus to die on a cross and wipe our every sin away, God showed us the most incredible love imaginable. If God was willing to love us in such an illogical way, should we be surprised that he asks us to love our fellow man in the same way? Of course not! It’s the least we can do!
There will be times when you and I will fail to love both our neighbors and our enemies. When that happens, we’ll humbly lay those sins at the cross of our Savior and we’ll know they’re forgiven with all the rest. But then we’ll go back to our lives, thankful for the illogical love our God has shown to us, and empowered to show that same kind of illogical love to EVERYONE around us—including our enemies!
Blessings on the rest of your week!