Scripture: Matthew 5:43–48
Key Verse: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’” (Matthew 5:43–44)
When you begin to follow Christ, you are called to something more; something greater than yourself! This includes how we handle strong emotions like anger.
Jesus’s biggest challenges to us are: Love God with everything you are! and then go love everyone else! (see Matthew 22:37–39; Mark 12:29–31).
Jesus points out that almost everyone gets along with people who love them and are like them. Even terrible people like terrorists greet each other with “Hello! How’s it going, friend?” It is normal to be nice to people you like and who are like you!
Christ challenges us to live differently, to love differently! It is very difficult to love someone when you are angry with them, when your heart is full of rage and pain and indignation at their actions. But remember that you and I have also done terrible things yet we have received grace and mercy from god. We did not deserve that or earn it. God had every right to be angry at us and hold our faults against us. But Christ gave us what we did not deserve—forgiveness—and we are challenged to do likewise.
So take that rage inside you, gather it into a ball, and bravely hand it over to God. Ask God to transform it into love, grace, and mercy, so you can respond to the challenge to love differently!
When have you experience the power of love, grace, and mercy? How do you feel when you hear Jesus’s challenge to love others even when you are angry at them? Are you willing to set aside your anger and choose to extend love, grace, and mercy to others?
Write down three positive activities you can do when you are angry. Anything from running to drawing to playing your favorite video game. Keep the list with you in your phone. The next time you get angry, pull back from the situation and take a look at your list. Choose one to do even if you don’t want to and are sure it won’t help. Just making different choices when you’re angry can open up a whole new way of dealing with tough situations. Once you have pulled back from the situation, open God’s Word and pray for God’s peace and wisdom to give you a new perspective and enable you to love differently.
God, I admit that I find it hard to let go of my anger when people treat me unfairly and take advantage of me. I know you want me to love differently. Please give me the courage to walk in your footsteps. Show me how to handle my anger and give me the wisdom and courage to give people what they need rather than what they deserve. Thank you for all the times you have given me grace and mercy. Amen.