Morning: Matthew 5:43-6:4; Noon: Exodus 28:31-31:11; Evening: Psalm 26
Just this weekend, my wife and I sat down with some wonderful Christians from the local congregation who gathered together for some Bible study and time of fellowship. Our discussion concerned God’s love for all of mankind. Several figures came to light from the days long before the establishment of the church when all nations would be united together through the bond of love in Christ Jesus. Figures like Rahab the harlot, who was of the Canaanite nation, and would be spared from God’s destruction because of her faith in Jehovah God. Ruth, the Moabite, who would be included in the Messiah’s lineage, because of her faith in the kinsman redeemer to bless her and her mother-in-law with an inheritance. Even Nineveh, that violent and bloody Gentile city, was shown God’s love when the reluctant Jonah was sent to preach repentance.
In light of these many extensions of God’s love toward sinners and outsiders, how was it that the Pharisees could promote hatred toward their enemies? That could be a very difficult question to answer since we are not living in the days of the Pharisees, but we may not be as far removed from the Pharisees as we might think sometimes. The Pharisees were a people of letter and not spirit. They emphasized external obedience to the law, but neglected inward obedience. They were often guilty of greed, pride, even murder, and then twisted the law to justify their deeds. It would be a mistake to assume that the position of their heart did not adversely affect their interpretation of the law. It would have been very easy for them to adopt the spirit of David in specific passages out of context and neglect the summary of the law, “Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies” (Psalm 139:21-22).
There is a righteous hatred that should burn against every enemy. This hatred exists against the deeds and imaginations of the wicked, but it does not exist against the very soul of our neighbor. Jesus reminded men to love their enemies, and even the inspired Jewish proverb said, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat” (Pro. 25:21). We should love the world as God did, and do good to all, while especially loving the family of God (Gal. 6:10).
Do you love those outside the body of Christ?