“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (7/07/10): Demand #30 “Love Your Enemies – Do Good To Those Who Hate You, Give To The One Who Asks”

Matthew 18:21-22

Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

Luke 6:27

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

Luke 23:34

“And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”

“The change of our hearts will result in radically altered social agendas. One of the examples of loving our enemies that Jesus gives is God’s daily mercy on this rebellious world: “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). Sun and rain are two essential things beyond our human control that are needed for crops to grow. So Jesus is saying that God reaches down to his enemies and helps meet their needs for food and water. He does not wait for them to repent. He shows mercy. Therefore, loving our enemy means practical acts of helpfulness in the ordinary things of life. God gives his enemies sunshine and rain. You give your enemies food and water. This and many other practical things are included in the simple little phrase “do good.”  (pg. 233-234).”

Hate is a very strong word. Think of what it might look like and feel like to be hated. And then ponder the marvel of doing good for the one who hates you. Jesus certainly knew what it was like to be hated (Luke 19:14; John 7:7; 15:18, 24-25), and he laid his life down for all of his enemies who would receive his love. When Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), he was not measuring the greatness of his love by the fact that he was dying for his friends, but by the fact that he was dying—and doing it freely. By referring to his friends he meant that the purpose of his death to remove the wrath of God (John 3:14-15, 36) and forgive sins (Matt. 26:28) would only be experienced by those who are now enemies but lay down their enmity and become his friends. And Jesus made it clear that just as he was hated, we certainly will be hated if we follow him. “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22). And this will be all the more painful because the hate will sometimes come from former friends: “Many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another” (Matt. 24:10). Think of the kinds of emotions that naturally rise in your heart when someone really hates you and lies about you and wants to hurt you. Most of us have such a strong sense of rights that we feel immediately justified in getting even. Jesus demands that our hearts change. There may be legitimate indignation over the evil, but the heart must want the hater’s good and “do good.” Our love may bring contrition to the hater’s heart, or it may be trampled in the dirt (like the love of Jesus). But that is not our business. Jesus says, “Do good to those who hate you.”

He becomes graphic in his illustrations of this demand to return good for evil. “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” (Luke 6:29-30). The challenge I feel as I face these radical demands is how to let them have their full impact on my heart and life and yet not take them more absolutely than Jesus intended. My fear is that if I make any qualification I will minimize their intended force. On the other hand, they will also lose their force if they seem so unrealistic that people just pass over them as irrelevant to real life… These demands are not absolute for every situations that the two commands—“do good” to those who hate us and “give to everyone who asks”—may not always lead us to the same behavior. We may have a very good plan for what would “do good” for a person that would involve not giving him what he asks for. And giving him what he asks for may not do him good. This is easily seen in recovery programs where the plan involves no alcohol during the six months of residency. If the patient demands money for a drink, we will say to him in love, that is not the way we can “do good” to him right now… “doing good” is not always identical with giving to those who ask… These demands are not absolute for every situation is that we almost always have competing candidates for our love. In other words, what love seems to demand for one person is a behavior that will not be loving to another person. Very simply, what if two people demand from you the same thing at the same time? Or what if the money you have set aside to pay the rent for a poor person is demanded by a beggar? Or what if a thief demands to have the keys to your car when your child is in the backseat? Most of the time, any choice to give our time or money to one person means it cannot go to another person. Therefore, we have no choice but to apply principles other than simply the command to give, in order to decide the most loving way to give. So I conclude that Jesus’ commands to give to those who ask and lend expecting nothing in return are not ultimate or absolute for every situation (pg. 236-240).

*** Please feel free to check out the video for “Love Like You” by Jonny Diaz in my Vodpod, a challenging (yet catchy) reminder to imitate Jesus’ example of love to all.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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