What Jesus Did! 'Finding Our Target' — Matthew 5:43-45

Friday, March 5, 2021

[Jesus continued:] "You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike."
— Matthew 5:43-45 NLT

Key Thought

This is a powerful conclusion to the things Jesus has been teaching us about our relationships with others. In the Kingdom family of God, the "greater righteousness" has as its visible sign a radically different, redemptively loving commitment for those around us. As Jesus reminded us in the Beatitudes, and again challenges us here, our goal is to love our neighbor. When our desire is to act redemptively, our neighbor becomes anyone who needs the love of the Father, love that may need to be shown through our help and mercy (Luke 10:30-37). The Father — God himself — is to be our inspiration, goal, and target in this pursuit. Because God is our Father, his traits should be our traits. He loved the world and sent his Son knowing that many would reject him. Yet his love is transformational: transformational for our world, our friendships, our families, and our attitude toward our enemies.

Today's Prayer

Almighty, yet compassionate Father, give me greater patience and confidence as I try to love those who are not very lovable and try to return grace to those who have enmity for me. When I do these things, I know that I am only allowing your character to come through in my life. In my quest to be like you, I do not desire your power, O Lord, for you alone are God. But I do earnestly want to take on your holy and gracious character. Work your will in my heart through your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Romans 12:14
  • 1 Peter 2:9-12
  • 1 Corinthians 4:12-13


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Illustration of Matthew 5:43-45 NLT — "You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy."

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.