“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (7/08/10): Demand #31 “Love Your Enemies To Show That You Are Children Of God”

Matthew 5:44-45

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

Luke 6:29-30, 35-36

“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… Love your enemies, and do good; and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

 “What then is Jesus demanding in the radical commands like those of Luke 6:29-30? I cannot escape the implication that behind and within these commands is the demand to be radically free from the love of money and from the need for earthly security and honor. Turning the other cheek even though the backhanded slap is an infuriating public dishonor, and lending without expecting repayment, and taking the time out of your schedule to carry a soldier’s burden twice as far as he demanded1—all of these things imply that your treasure and your security and your honor are in heaven and not on the earth. Jesus has become for you radically satisfying. If this were not the case one can only imagine that the heart would be seething with rage while doing good and suffering the indignity. Therefore, I infer that in all these commands, Jesus is calling for a change of heart that looks to Jesus and his reward rather than what this world can give. But it would be a mistake to stress only that Jesus is calling for a change of heart that treasures Jesus more than money and security and honor. He is also calling for real good to be done for our enemy and that we should really want this good to be done. We have seen this most clearly in the demand that we bless and pray for our enemies (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:28). The real good that we must aim at, if we love our enemies, is that all the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer come true for them. To desire these things from our heart for our enemies, and to lay down our lives to bring them about, that is love (pg. 242-243).”

“The final question I ask now about Jesus’ demand to love our enemies is: How we can do this? Where does power to love like this come from? Think how astonishing this is when it appears in the real world! It is an amazing thing when a person loves like this. To see it in a high degree in anyone is rare. This should make us sober and strip us of all presumption and set us seeking the power to be like this. If we limit our answer to what we see in the immediate contexts of Matthew 5:38-48 and Luke 6:27-36, there are three interwoven answers.

The first is found in the promise that if we love our enemies we will be sons of God: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44-45). Someone may take this to mean that you must first become a person who loves his enemies before you can be a child of God. But it may also mean—as I think it does—love your enemies and so prove yourself to be what you are—a child of God. That is, show that you are a child of God by acting the way your Father acts. If you are his, then his character is in you, and you will be inclined to do what he does. God loves his enemies—the evil and the unjust—in sending rain and sunshine on them instead of immediate judgment (pg. 244-245).”

“Interwoven with this empowerment is another one in the immediate context of the commands. Jesus promises “great reward” if we love our enemies—not in this life, but in heaven. “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” (Luke 6:35). I say the two sources of power are interwoven because the “great reward” is connected to “you will be sons of the Most High.” In other words, when you prove yourselves to be sons of God by loving your enemy, your inheritance as sons is secured. Sons are heirs, and heirs of God are heirs of everything. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). The reason I say that the reward is in heaven and not on the earth is, first, that loving our enemy may cost us our lives (Luke 21:16). Jesus said our joy in the midst of persecution is based on our reward in heaven: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12). The joy that sustains us in the midst of persecution, as we endeavor to love our enemies, is not based mainly on what this world can offer, but on what God will be for us as our Father, and what Jesus will be for us as our King, in the age to come.

A third truth that enables us to love our enemy is interwoven with the other two in Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” The implication here is not only that God is already our Father, and that his inheritance is our joy-sustaining reward in suffering, but also that the mercy of God has already been shown to us through his Son Jesus. This means that the mercy we are called to show is not just modeled on God’s mercy but is rooted in the saving experience of God’s mercy. Jesus put it like this, “You received without paying; give without pay” (Matt. 10:8). In other words, God has forgiven our sins freely because of Jesus. “Your sins are forgiven . . . your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:48, 50). This forgiveness, Jesus says, is purchased for us by his own blood (Matt. 26:28). We did not deserve it or earn it. We received it by faith. He came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He did not come to call the righteous but sinners (Luke 5:32). Therefore, the stunning news is: Tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before scribes and elders (Matt. 21:31). Which means that we came into the position of a forgiven disciple of Jesus, a citizen of his kingdom, and a child of God by faith, not by loving our enemy first. Now that we have received all this “without pay”—without buying it or earning it or deserving it—now we are called: Freely you received love when you were enemies of God; now freely give love to your enemies. (pg. 247-248).”

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on July 8, 2010 at 10:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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