Updated: Dec 2, 2019
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Reconciliation— this is something that I think everyone has a hard time with. Whether it’s because you’re afraid of conflict, you’re too prone to conflict and that makes it uncomfortable for others to want to deal with you, or you’re somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, conflict is difficult. So does that mean we shouldn’t deal with it? Definitely not. Our God is a God that wants all things to be reconciled to Himself, whether on heaven or on earth. You might be asking, “But how am I supposed to deal with conflict in a biblical sense?” Well, let’s start right here in Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Now you might be asking, “If I am angry with my enemy how am I supposed to show love and pray for them?” Now this is where the difficulty begins, Christian.
Jesus, being perfect, is showing us how He deals with conflict and is modeling how He wants us to successfully get it done. I know we have our sin nature that compromises our abilities, but it is possible for us to look past ourselves and look into the heart of Jesus here. So before you even pray for them, start by praying for your own heart. Pray against your sin nature and ask God to provide the grace, the mercy, the compassion that He has for this person. When we ask God to replace our hearts with His, He is faithful to do so when we continue to ask.
Alright, now your heart is right with God, so what comes next in the process of reconciliation? Well now is when you can start praying for that other person. We all fight battles behind closed doors that no one knows about, only God. Ask God to help this person in those battles, start to petition God on this person’s behalf, asking God to reveal Himself to them and to bless this person in their pursuit of Him. Pray for them as often as you think about the wrong doings they have caused, pray for them as often as you start to feel anger creep up, pray for them as often as you would complain about them. When you start to pray for them instead of letting feelings take over you start to notice your heart truly going to them in earnest. You start to realize that they too, struggle, they too are human, they too are dealing with life just as much as you are. This compassion, this understanding, this is what Jesus truly wants you to start seeing here.
Once you start to have that compassion, then you are able to truly love your enemy as your neighbor. Your enemy very well could be your neighbor after all, and Jesus wants us to love with no biases. When the Pharisee asks Jesus who the neighbor is in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), we learn that the one who acted as a neighbor was the one who showed a fallen man mercy. Jesus wants us to be like that good Samaritan and to constantly be able to show Jesus through our acts of mercy toward others.
You have your heart right, you have your mind set on mercy, now if you’re able to, you should work toward reconciliation with your enemy. This means that you have to acknowledge your own short comings in this relationship, because no one is perfect. It simply could be that your anger kept you from reconciling, and earlier in these passages in Matthew (5:21-26) we learned not to have anger against another because we are liable to that judgement more so than the one who caused the anger. Knowing this, and having a heart set on compassion, you should be able to have a conversation, an open, authentic, God honoring conversation. Because Jesus wants us to have love in our hearts for his creation, and because Jesus wants the body to function properly, we are called to have these uncomfortable conversations. We are called to work toward peace. I do not mean peace in a sense of sweeping things under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. That is a false sense of peace and will only lead to more turmoil than was necessary. I mean peace from the Hebrew understanding of Shalom. Shalom means wholeness— Jesus wants us to bring wholeness back into our lives and our relationships in order to achieve true healing and prosperity. To be an ambassador of wholeness is to be a true child of God.
So Church, who do you need to have Shalom with once again?
Are there relationships in your life that God is asking you to bring HIS peace into?
Who is someone that you have labeled as your enemy that you can be praying for and loving?
Lord, we petition you to help our hearts overflow with your grace. Your grace that covers the sins of your people and brings us into relationship with you. Lord, we pray your mercy would be in our actions, in our words, and in the way that we hold ourselves when it comes to those who are difficult to love. We recognize that we ourselves are hard to love sometimes, and yet you love us anyway. Lord, I pray that we would seek and find your heart for your creation and earnestly seek to be love to all around us. We recognize we are not able to do any of this on our own, we ask you to be the one to guide us into Shalom, and we ask that you would remind us daily to recognize that you are who and what we need in all circumstances. Thank you for your ministry of reconciliation, and thank you for reconciling us to yourself on the cross, you are our ultimate example of radical living. We love you, we praise you, we expect great things from your work in and through our lives. Amen.