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In Matthew 5:43 Jesus states, “You have heard that is was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

Jesus statement, “Love your neighbor” is a Remez to Leviticus 19:18, but his statement “and hate your enemy” doesn’t appear anywhere in scripture. Why does Jesus make a reference to the Torah and combine a statement that is not of biblical origin? Here is what it says in Leviticus 19:18 - “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”

It is possible the reason Jesus refers to Leviticus 19:18 and combines the statement “and hate your enemy” is because many of the Jewish people of Jesus day hated, or wanted to go to war against the Romans. So Jesus says, You have heard it said (in the Torah) love your neighbor, and you’ve heard (perhaps from your countrymen) to hate your enemy (Romans). But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

To love your neighbor wasn’t a new thought, but to love your enemy was a new thought because it is human nature to NOT LOVE our enemies, right? We have something inside that seeks vengeance when we have been violated. We hold a grudge like it’s a badge. We seek to even the score.

But what is the price we pay for holding grudges or seeking vengeance? Here is a short list:

  • Distorts our thinking

  • Causes stress

  • Lose of sleep

  • Robs us of joy & peace

  • Fills our heart with hatred

  • Repeated thoughts of vengeance or hatred will reshape our views of justice

and right and wrong

  • Can negatively affect other relationships

  • Can lead to wrongful acts

Jesus is letting us know that when we hold a grudge or hate our enemy we become partners with our oppressors/enemy in persecuting ourselves. Holding a grudge or hating someone is like cutting your nose off to spite your face. It hurts you more than it will ever hurt them. While loving your enemy, get this, will free you and give you peace of mind and possibly drive them to shame.

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