Week 5 – Love Your Enemies
Read Matthew 5:43-48 and your notes from Sunday morning’s sermon.
Intro: In this section, Jesus gives us another example of a common teaching based on scripture and then gives us His view on the subject. In this example, the subject is love. Jesus says that what was taught or accepted at that time was to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. The Jews who knew the scriptures well would have known that it commands them to love thier neighbor. (Leviticus 19:18) Hating enemies is a conclusion they come to from the scriptures as well! There, of course, are examples in scripture where an enemy is treated or viewed badly, but there are also many examples in scripture where the people are told to be helpful towards those they do not know, extending love to everyone. So what they had done, and what Jesus was trying to correct, was the oversimplification of these ideas into the easiest option: Love your friends and hate your enemies.
Jesus tells us to love everyone. God blesses everyone, even those who hate Him. Jesus calls us to act in the same way with how we love others.
- Think of how you love your friends and family. What does that look like in action?
- How you ever felt proud or satisfied with yourself for the way that you love people who already love you back?
- According to the scripture, is this something that we should feel any pride over?
- God’s people are held to a higher standard in love. What do you think it would look like to love your enemies?
- The scripture ends with Jesus telling us to keep on striving for perfection in love. (v.48) How devoted must we be then, to embody this pursuit of perfection in Christ?
Feel free to discuss or ask additional questions as they arise
Spiritual Practice: Practicing Service – this week as we continue to practice service, let’s focus on putting others’ needs before our own. This is probably one of the most difficult parts of service. It can come fairly naturally to some of us to simply be of service to others. Hospitality may come easy, and listening to the needs of others may be second nature. When it truly comes down to living and embodying service though, it does require putting others first even before ourselves. Even when we manage to serve others well, we often prioritize ourselves. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves – not after ourselves. The world tells us that self-care is number one, but let’s not deny ourselves the opportunity to be dependent on God while we act in the service of others.
This week, start your morning every day with a simple prayer. Ask God to bring you someone to serve. Do this even on the days when you feel like you have nothing to give. See how your perspective might be changed as you open yourself up to all kinds of service.