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January 23

Matthew 5, 43-48

Something to read

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

Weather does not discriminate. The rain that waters your garden falls on your neighbour’s too. The sun that lights your morning rises on the whole community around you. The righteous and the rascal, the gracious and the grumpy, the open-handed and the hard-hearted – all get sustained by the sky and the seasons.

That’s the way creation works. For that, says Jesus, is what God is like. The goodness of the earth is for sharing, and God shares it.

So that is what you and I should be like too. Love is for friend and foe alike, for foreigners as well as family. The milk of human kindness is ours to pour, but not ours to channel one way or another.

Even if people hurt us or hate us, it is right to pray for them and ask God to bless them. Then if the chance comes and we can safely take it, do them a good turn, help them out of trouble, show a steady goodwill.

Hardship doesn’t discriminate either. When drought or famine strikes a land, that is not because people there are worse or more wicked than the rest of us. They probably include the normal sort of mixture and variety of personality that you find anywhere. So aid policies do not discriminate.

When we give to Christian Aid, our help will often reach the whole of a wounded community – Christian and non-Christian, pleasant people and the less pleasant, those who welcome Western help and some who may only accept it grudgingly.

There’s nothing wrong with giving and sharing as freely as that. Indeed there’s a lot right with it. It’s God’s way, there’s gospel in such action, and it’s one way of showing the love of Jesus in the face of suffering.

Something to do

Is there someone you once quarrelled with, for whom you can do a kindness today – not as a dramatic gesture, nor as an awkward attempt at a forced reconciliation, but as a simple, worthwhile and straightforward piece of Christian love?

Something to pray

Lord Jesus Christ, may your love be known and shown, through the deeds of your friends, amid the needs of the whole world. Amen.

Today’s contributor is the Rev John Proctor, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, formerly Director of Studies at Westminster College, Cambridge. 


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