But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:35-36 (NIV)
In the above verses, Jesus teaches us to do good and benevolent deeds towards our enemies hoping or expecting nothing for oneself in return. Anyone besides me convicted yet? I sometimes find it hard to do good deeds with no expectations towards those I love much less to my enemies! But that is exactly what Jesus is calling for us to do. He wants our actions to mimic those of the Father: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:43-48 (NIV)
We are to be a channel of God’s love to all – including our enemies or those who have not been particularly kind to us. Have you ever noticed how kindness and love dispels much anger? I love the following proverbs:15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. Prov 25:15 (NIV) 1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov 15:1 (NIV)
24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Prov 16:24 (NIV)
Our words can be sweet like a honeycomb, turning away anger and bringing healing to the hearer. Oftentimes, people in our paths that are just plain hateful or rude are dealing with some sort of hurt or insecurity which makes them behave in that way. It is usually not us that they are upset with but something that has occurred in their life. They are probably craving a kind word or deed or perhaps even a hug. Jesus is telling us to love them through this. Not an easy assignment. If you are like me, you want to shake them and tell them to snap out of it! (Can you tell mercy is not one of my Spiritual gifts???) We are not to respond in like manner but as Christ would – loving to all. We should never forget that we were once enemies of God and alienated from Him yet He loved us: 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)
He showed us love and mercy when we certainly did not deserve it setting forth for us a beautiful example. His desire is for us to go beyond what is normal behavior – loving those that love us – so that others can see Jesus in us by loving the unlovely. When we respond kindly through His power to hurtful things we exhibit Christ-like behavior and that is very wooing. Paul tells us: 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Cor 5:14-15 (NIV)
When Christ’s love is made manifest in flesh and blood through the power of the Holy Spirit, it is just as compelling. May we be found faithful to this command! 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NIV)
What I Glean
- Christ desires for me to respond in love to all – even those who are unkind to me.
- Christ desires for me to do good to others without expectations of pay-backs.
- Christ desires for me to be merciful as He is merciful to me.