But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! (Luke 6:27-33 – NLT)
This kind of love should make us stick out in the crowd. Drinking buddies, drug addicts, and ruthless criminals will care for their own. They watch their buddies’ back. Those with no claim on God treat their friends with care.
But we are called to higher living. We’re to love those who treat us with contempt and disdain. We’re to find tangible ways to show care for those who show their dislike for us. When is the last time you’ve done that? We’re to speak kindly and graciously to those who bite us with stinging sarcasm and bitter words.
A test from the Lord today will be how I deal with those who don’t want to be in my presence, those who say disparaging things about me. Do I pray for them? Do I look for tangible ways to express care? Or do I write them off as hardened and hopeless?
Jesus proved His care for us when we insulted Him by our words and actions. He loved us while we were still dead in our sins. After Judas had betrayed Jesus for some silver coins, Jesus gave him a morsel of food from His own hand, which in that culture was a serious act of kindness and care for a friend. Jesus prayed for those who crucified Him while He hung on the cross in pain. Before Peter denied Jesus, Jesus told him to bless his brothers in the faith after he had repented of his sin against Jesus.
The love of God is placed in us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus has given us the ability to love as He did. We can love our enemies. We can sow acts of kindness to those who do us wrong. We must will to love. This has nothing to do with feelings. Loving the unlovely has to do with obedience.
Paul Summarizes the attitude we should well: Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head’.Don’t allow yourself to be overpowered with evil. Take the offensive—overpower evil by good! (Romans 12:19 – J.B. Phillips Translation).
Let’s look for opportunities today to love those who just don’t like us or those that treat us with contempt. It’s the Jesus way to relate.