Thursday, September 13, 2012

Matthew 5:43-45 -- On Breaking the Cycle of Hatred

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
Matthew 5:43-45

This has always been a hard one, but like yesterday's scripture, God asks us to take an old commandment and go further with it.  It's a challenge to learn to love, but when we have people around that love us, they show us how, and we start learning the basics... giving rather than expecting, serving, sharing.  Finding ways to make other people smile.  After we get the hang of it a little, it is almost easy to love the people who also love us, because both sides want things to be good, and so we are all working on it and trying to clear up any impediments to communication and good feelings.  Which is good, and something we need to keep perfecting, but here, God asks us to take it further, and to learn the next step... loving people who do not love us.  Loving the people who dislike us, in fact... people who aren't working for the same goals.  People who might not care how things work out, or who might even actively be trying to make things work out badly.  It requires some giant steps outside our comfort zones.  Being nice to the mean people?  Trying to serve and love the cruel people who try to cheat us or ridicule us?  Being kind to people who would be happy to harm us?  ... It sounds crazy, like an invitation to abuse.  But, on a deeper level, it makes sense.  What else can break the cycle of hatred?  We've all offended people in the past... because we were having a bad day, because we took our anger out on a specific person, or for whatever reason.  If those people chose to come after us and hate us eternally, and then we did the same, all we would be doing in this life is building eternal feuds, starting wars, and inciting continuous contention.  Instead, God asks us to turn around to people who are cruel to us, and bless them.  Pray for them.  Love them.  That is what stops the cycle.  That is what removes the black feelings and thoughts from our hearts.  That is what makes the world kinder, and better.  I don't think that God is telling us to remain in situations that cause us pain, or to invite people to abuse us... but he is asking us to never return abuse for abuse or hatred for hatred.  To have his spirit with us, we need to be filled with love.  We need to be kind and good... to everyone.  Today, let's work on breaking the cycle.

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