I want to start off by asking your forgiveness. I have not written in a few days. Getting ready for Christmas and watching grandkids have occupied me more hours than I expected. Let’s get on into what He has for us today.
Luke brings us Jesus’ words about love today. We are going to hear about the hardest love to give, but also the most impactful. Love for your enemies.
We talked about this issue when we looked at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. We looked at this topic specifically in the blog “Jesus’ Teaches Amazing Love” and in general in the blog “Jesus Sums Up The Law & the Prophets.” Feel free to check them out. I’m going to try and not duplicate what was said there, but there will probably be some overlap.
Jesus gave very concrete examples of the kind of love He was talking about. I believe He is still talking specifically to His disciples and to the rest of us in general. I think Jesus gave them, and us, these concrete examples so we would know exactly what He was talking about.
He starts out with the global statement of “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (verse 27). But He doesn’t stop there. He begins to generate examples for us right away. I wonder if there was a pause in His speech when He said this to the group.
Jesus first instructions are to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (verse 28). Ok. Not what we would want to do but not too difficult so far. I can do these things from the comfort of my home. I can pray for the person who has wronged me once I calm down, back at home. So far no face to face love is being required.
Uh oh. Now He makes it even harder. Jesus is telling His disciples, and us, that in the middle of the acts of abuse and hate we have to show love. Right then and right there. Jesus says that if your enemy slaps you, you are to offer him the other cheek instead of striking back. If your enemy comes up and snatches your coat, don’t react violently. Even allow him to take your shirt too if he presses. If someone begs you for your possessions, give them to him/her freely. And if someone steals something from you, don’t demand it back.
I can think of MORE than one example of where I didn’t live up to Jesus’ words. I can also think of some times when I did. Everything in Jesus’ words here goes against our self-important world view. We are taught to stand up to bullies, to take care of ourselves, and to “look out for number one.”
It’s easy for anyone to do good to those who are doing good to you. Jesus said that even the sinners can do this. But only those who understand and receive the love that God demonstrated by sending Jesus can do what Jesus is calling His disciples, and us, to do. Jesus promises a great reward for those who behave this way. We are to live this way in order to demonstrate His love. Our actions speak louder than any words we could ever say.
God’s actions of sending His only Son into a world that would hate Him so much that they would kill Him SHOUTS His amazing love. Jesus dying words on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” proclaims His love for even the worst of us. Jesus forgave His torturers in the middle of their actions. He didn’t wait for them to repent. He simply put His forgiveness out there for them to access.
So many times we want His words to say, “Do to others as they are doing to you” but that is NOT what He said or did. His exact words were, “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (verse 31). This is exactly what He lived out every day.
He wanted others to find God’s love, so He modeled that love for them every day. He wants us to model that same kind of love. Does He expect us to do this alone? Can we live this way perfectly? How do we live up to this standard?
The only way we can fulfil His command is by spending time with Him and learning about His love for us from His word. I can’t do it on my own and neither can the rest or best of you. We ALL need His help. All we have to do is ask Him to fill us to the brim with His love. Then His love will overflow and spill onto those we come in contact with.
I just finished reading a book titled “The Legend of Holly Clause” by Brittney Ryan. It is interesting that I should finish this book right when I encounter Jesus’ teaching on love. In the end of the book there was a singular sentence that won the day. That sentence was “Love conquers time.” Our heroin had a curse put on her as a baby. The villain in the story vowed he would “have her heart” in order to free himself from eternal damnation, but she had to give it willingly. He tried wooing her with all the luxuries this world had to offer but she didn’t want them. All she wanted was to help heal the world’s hurts. She found someone to love in the process but the villain used his demise as a way to force Holly into giving him her heart. What she did was remarkable. She promised that if he would free the man she loved that she would give the villain, Herrikhan, her heart and love him too. She told him that she forgave him.
This struck me as exactly how God loves us. At our worst, when we are doing everything we can to thwart His plans, He offers us His heart COMPLETELY. The villain in the story was undone by that offer. His heart melted within him and he crumbled into dust. We are undone by God’s offer but we are not destroyed. At the moment of acceptance of His love is where He can finally begin to make us into what we were created to be from the beginning; His child.
Thank You God for loving me so much that You reached down through time and space to demonstrate it to me. You didn’t leave me wondering or wandering, but showed me exactly how much You love me. Thank You that You enable me to pass that love onto others. I want to pass it to everyone around me, including those on the “enemy” list. Thank You Jesus for Your specific instructions on how to demonstrate Your kind of love. Please help me live up to that calling. I know I will fail more times than I can count, but let me succeed at least one more time than I fail. Not because You are keeping score, but because I need to see Your hand working in me to encourage me in my daily walk. I need to know that I am growing in You every day. This knowledge brings me hope. Hope that someday I will reach a place in our relationship where I don’t disappoint You on a daily basis. I want You to be pleased with me AND my actions. I know I have a long way to grow, but trust You WILL get me to where You want me to be. Thank You for never giving up on me.