Thursday, April 28, 2011

Loving Enemies and Repaying Evil with Good

Luke 6:27-28 NLT  
   27 But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
   32 If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much.  34 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.
   35 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  not unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
   37 Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

The Christian life-- when lived appropriately-- is an impossible one to humans. Our fallen, judging, condemning nature will not permit us to engage in the Christ-likeness that Jesus taught us to follow. But the good news is that we don't have to be subject to that fallen nature any longer. Through our faith in Christ's resurrection and salvation, we can be empowered to overcome our old nature and destroy it-- crucify it with Christ. We can be raised to a new kind of life, one that has power to do the impossible.

Jesus would never ask you and I to do something that was impossible for us. He would only ask us to do that which he has already authorized for us and that he has empowered us to accomplish. So, since Christ taught us to love enemies, we can do it.  Since Christ taught us to do good to those who have harm and who continue to harm us, we could do it if we choose to. Since Christ called us to lend to enemies, we can find it within us to do that too. We can even not seek restitution when other people steal from us, but can simply treat the stolen items as a gift to the thief. You see if we avoid 'judging' others who do evil or harm to us, then we will not come to a conclusion that they are bad. If we ask God to help us to see those harming people as HE sees them, HE will do that within us for HE is living within us and through us.

When we are limitless in our generosity to others then God has promised that the blessings coming to us will be likewise limitless. Jesus spoke this passage to "those who are willing to listen."  Are we willing to listen to this message? Are we willing to implement it today?

Your servant in Christ's love

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