Monday, March 13 – “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18) This command of God has been corrupted by time and sin-stained humanity. We have defined this as a command to love the people who look like us, think like us and act like us, regardless of their physical proximity to us. Anyone who looks different, thinks different or acts different, regardless of their physical proximity to us, isn’t our neighbor. Thus, we don’t need to love them. God didn’t intend for us to narrowly define neighbor as people just like us. God intended for us to define neighbor as all people.
Tuesday, March 14 – “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:28) This teaching is counter-cultural. This teaching flies in the face of everything our world teaches us about how to treat our enemies. This teaching isn’t easy. For if it was, then everyone would be doing it. Remember, Jesus has called us to be “light” and “salt” for this world. This is one very powerful way to be “light” and “salt”. Start loving your enemies. “Bless those who curse you”, through your action and your words. And “Pray for those who mistreat you.”
Wednesday, March 15 – “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.” (Ephesians 5:1) In Jesus’ culture it was customary and expected that children would be like their fathers. They would continue in the family business and implement their father’s wishes. It’s still common to observe that a child is like their father, in either positive or negative ways. Who your father is influences who you are. Being a child of God means that you also follow God’s example. God loves all people, even the people who would be deemed as enemies of God. If that is who God is, and you are a child of God, what does that mean for you?
Thursday, March 16 – “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me’, he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9) Jesus lived his teaching. Not only did Jesus teach that we are to love our enemies, he called a tax collector to be one of his disciples. Tax collectors were hated by the people. No descent, upstanding, Jewish person would ever be friends with a tax collector. Matthew was definitely an enemy. But here was Jesus, the Messiah, calling a tax collector to be one of his chosen disciples.
Friday, March 17 – “The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11) How’s your heart? If your prayer life has anything to do with thanking God that you aren’t like other people, you have a heart problem. If you believe that you are better than other people, because of what you believe or what you do, you have a heart problem. If you only see other people as their behaviors or decisions, as opposed to being dearly loved children of God, you have a heart problem. If you take note of the faults of all the people around you, while you are praying, you have a heart problem. So, again, how’s your heart?
Saturday, March 18 – “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14) At some point you must grow up. You can’t live a full, rich, vibrant life, only eating baby formula. At some point you have to stop taking the easy way out. You have to do the hard work of understanding who you are and who God is to you. This will require you to either accept God’s design, purpose and calling on your life or reject it. My prayer is that you accept God’s design, purpose and calling on your life. That decision will require you to get off the baby formula and do the hard work of transformation. You can’t expect transformation in your life by continuing to be who you are right now and doing what you do right now.