Today’s reading: Joshua 23-24; Luke 6:27-49
11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. Joshua 23:11
35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35,36
Joshua urged the Israelites to love the Lord their God and to flee marriage entanglements with their enemies, the pagan natives of Canaan. He knew that, if they intermarried with pagans, they would be drawn away from faithful and sincere service to God. At the same time, there were notable examples of Gentiles coming into the covenant people of God. Rahab and her family were protected from destruction in Jericho and admitted into the lineage of Judah and Jesus (Matthew 1:5). So the intention of Joshua’s command was not to withhold salvation from the Gentiles but to protect the Israelites from apostasy.
Jesus taught His disciples to love their enemies, demonstrating godliness reflective of the Father who is merciful and kind even to the ungrateful and evil. Jesus was not teaching a relativistic view of morality in which everything that is good to you is good. He specifically showed that there is good and evil and that these are not the same. Good and evil fruits are produced by good and evil trees. But Jesus’ disciples were sent to show mercy to their enemies, the ungrateful, and the evil.
Why does God patiently pour out blessings on those who rebel against Him? Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). In due time, the evil will face the judgment of God, but, meanwhile, we who believe in Jesus show our faith by an obedient, godly life, including loving our enemies.
The prohibition of believers marrying unbelievers continues (2 Corinthians 6:14). Marriage is not one of the ways believers show love to unbelievers. This may be misunderstood by them, but that is the risk we must take to live a life of obedience. Of course, unbelievers are not prohibited from marrying one another. In fact, they should marry if so inclined.
Love God. Love your enemies, but love them as God does by doing them good and telling them of the gospel of Jesus Christ.