"But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.
Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don't try to get them back.
Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
"If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!
And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!
And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
"Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. (Luke 6:27-35)
Let's investigate this a little more. I don't know what you thought when you mused on this yesterday. Only one person shared anything with me. Thanks Kaleb. But let's look at the reality of what this passage is talking about. If we are honest most of us only love those who love us back. In fact most do less than that. In reality we love those who have loved us first. You first, then me. If you love me then I will love you. If you are nice to me, I will be nice to you. If you speak to me then I will speak to you. But you first! "I have been hurt too many times to want to take a risk on getting hurt again." I will just wait and observe before I have any part of this new possibility to be hurt.
To be able to even be in a position to do what is described here by Jesus we need to be whole. If we have been hurt many times in the past then we are not realistically in a fit state to love like this. To love like this (loving your enemies) requires something more. It is stepping up a few levels to the professional ranks of loving. Getting your degree in first class loving. Your black belt in loving. (Yes I know that is a bit of a mixed metaphor but I will risk it.) Loving like this is not for the faint hearted. But don't worry, this love is not for you to practice and work your way up to gradually, by degrees. It is knowing God's kind of love inside and taking a risk. Yes it's "professional loving" but loving by the power of the Lover of all lovers. God Himself. The Bible does say after all that "God is love".
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other LIKE THAT. (1 John 4:7-11)
Do you notice the words I added at the end in capitals. They are my words not John's words. The word for love that is used in Luke 6:27 is [agape] - it's God's kind of loving. Love like that. We are not talking about falling in love with people you hate. God is not expecting you to feel romantic attachment for a bunch of people who seem to despise you or neglect you or have no feelings for you whatsoever. You love because He loved and you practice His kind of love because that is what is inside of you by virtue of the fact that God is inside of you. It takes guts to love like this and it requires you taking a risk to love like this. But just stop and think for a moment what you are taking a risk in doing. In order to love with God's kind of love you are not trusting or taking a risk that they will love you back. Whether they love you back or not is not in the equation. In fact Luke 6:32 infers they won't anyway. You are not dependent on their reaction. You are risking all on God Himself not them. Their reaction is totally immaterial. You are risking your agape type love on God's faithfulness and His ability to hold you firm even if they don't love you back. And what's more they probably won't. The fact of the matter is you can't change them. But in loving like this you are taking a risk that God will take care of you and your loving heart and your ability to grow into loving like He loves. When you do that then you are the one who benefits the most.
Let me tell you of probably the first time I put this into practice. There was a man in our church some years ago (so don't go thinking about my church now and try to work out who this could be) who was my thorn in the flesh. I realized later that this man was truly my self-appointed enemy. The one allowed by God from satan to torment me. He was opposing me as one of the pastors of the church and he was telling all kinds of lies behind my back and spreading rumours. I tried to do the biblical thing and go to him to sort it all out. He told me to my face that he knew my motivations and that he knew he was right. Well that created an interesting impasse right there. He knew my motivations when I didn’t necessarily know them all myself, but I won't discuss that now. There was no reasoning with him; his mind was made up. I had to let it go. There was nothing I could do about it. Or was there? I found in the first period of time the issue would eat me up inside. I had to pass his house on the way to the church and I would find myself making faces at his house as I passed by and grrr'ing. You know what I mean I am sure. This "issue" had got "under my skin". I knew I now had a problem. But God led me through the path to recovery.
"Ian, the first step is to forgive him." Ok I can cope with that. Show me how Lord. At first my "I forgive him" was said through clenched teeth. But then gradually over a period of time I came to truly forgive him. I told him that to his face one day. It made absolutely no difference to him at all. He was confirmed in his conclusions and his attitude toward me. No great outcome or testimony there. Then God showed me the next step. Love him as I love him. Trust me in this Ian and watch me work it out. So I took a risk and did just that. It worked; primarily in me! Oh the man speaks to me now, smiles at me when we meet. To all looking on it would seem Ian and X have a harmonious relationship. But it all stems from me taking a risk to love him no matter what his reaction to me. At first his reaction was to confirm him in his opposition to me. Then it was guarded indifference, followed by plain indifference, followed by tolerance and lastly now acceptance of me as his brother in Christ but no more. We are not best of buddies or close friends because of the blockage there on his part. But he accepts the fact that I can love him with Christ's kind of love. I am not sure what it has done for him. Maybe not much, but it has made a world of difference for me in my ability to love the unlovely and to do good to those who treat me with spite. I haven't got to the point where someone has slapped me on the cheek and I have turned the other cheek to them, because no one has slapped me on the cheek yet. (By commenting on it in Bible Gemz I am not inviting you to do that but I trust you get my point and I don't get your slap on my cheek to test me.)
Allow me one more story from the world of Wycliffe and missions. I have talked about Klaus Pieter Kugler before (Gems 145 and 341) but didn’t tell the details of story of what opened up the Fayu to the love of God. As I said in Gem 341 they were practiced liars and thieves. It was a cultural practice and one would say impossible for them to change. One day Klaus Pieter had some crocodile meat out drying it in the sun when he saw the chief's son come and take it and disappear off into the bush. Klaus Pieter went to chief's son when he was with the chief and confronted him about what he had done. Of course he denied everything. Another seeming impasse. But God told Klaus Pieter to love him unconditionally and practice agape love toward him. The kind of love with no strings attached that seeks the benefit and well being of the one to be loved. Klaus Pieter took some more crocodile meat and gave it to the chief's son in the presence of others and said "here I am giving this to you because you obviously need it more than I do". This one act of agape love stunned the Fayu people. Oh their culture said it was ok to steal but they had never seen someone who loved back rather than stealing back. It was the catalyst to this people group accepting the truth of God's Word.
You go and do likewise under whatever prompting the Holy Spirit may give you.
The true test of life giving love is when we are prepared to give our best with no guarantee of return. Paul de Jong
God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do. Regina Brett
Try loving because of who God is, not because of anything they did or didn't do. Ian
Love totally with agape love and leave the rest to God.
Unlovely people need your love most when they least deserve it. (Notice I didn’t say unlovable people) Ian
Unlovable people are made lovable because of the loving God who lives in you. Ian