“’But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” – Luke 6:27-31
These verses are popular among many Christians and are an important reminder straight from the mouth of Jesus that we Christians are to live differently from the rest of the world. Instead of enacting justice upon those who have wronged us, He says we should love them even while they’re harming us! Now, that seems highly illogical from the human perspective. After all, who would love someone who stole from them or do good to the drunk driver who killed their sister? Don’t they have a right to their anger? The world says they do. But right here, Jesus is saying that we are to love them, not hate them.
As simple as it seems on the surface, it may be one of the hardest concepts to fully grasp. After all, it’s our human nature to desire justice for a wrong. It’s only logical. If someone does something wrong, they should be punished. Jesus, however, says we shouldn’t be the ones exacting the punishment. Ultimately, that’s His job. Does that mean that Christians can’t be judges or work in government positions to judge others? Of course not. The Bible clearly gives governments authority to exact earthly judgment in Romans 13, and I think it’s perfectly acceptable for Christians to hold those positions. However, that’s a little off topic. Back to our main subject.
As Christians we are called to go beyond what the average person expects, loving others without regard for what they’ve done to us or others. It’s a difficult task to be sure, but one that we aren’t to take lightly. God is love. It is at the center of His being. Therefore, as a reflection of our Creator, we are called to be that same light to anyone we come into contact with. Jesus further explains His point in the next paragraph:
“’If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 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. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:32-36
Even sinners do that! I love how practical Jesus’s explanation is. We already know that when we are Christians we’re going to live differently than the world. Then why do we act so surprised when Jesus tells us to love differently than the world? We’re not supposed to live like the rest of the world, showing kindness only to those who show kindness to us. No, living like this won’t always be safe. You may get burned by some people in pursuit of loving them as recklessly as Christ does us. You may lose a good chunk of money lending to someone you know won’t pay it back, despite they’re promises that it’ll be re-payed once they get their next paycheck. But as I have said time and time again on this blog, this life isn’t about our safety or comfort. I don’t expect to live my entire life sure of having money enough for everything I need. I don’t expect to not endure hardships as a consequence of loving others. What I do expect is the opportunity to worship my Father forever and ever once this short little life is over. It may not be comfortable, but man, the reward is worth all the trouble in the world.