Sunday Devotional: Do good to those who hate you

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Luke 6:27-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Jesus never said being His follower would be easy.

In fact, He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” –Matthew 16:24

For me, the passage from Luke 6 may be the most difficult of all. We are told to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and actually pray for those who mistreat us.

How preposterous is that!

Doing all that goes against our every impulse. It certainly is entirely contrary to the Old Testament‘s injunction to exact vengeance in kind: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 21:24-25)

Good grief. Why should we be so nice to our enemies?

Two reasons:

  1. “Do to others as you would have them do to you”: The Golden Rule of treating others as we would wish to be treated, and not treating others in ways that we would not want to be treated — a maxim found in not just Christianity, but in the world’s major religions and every ethical tradition.
  2. “For He himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
    Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”: A reminder to us when we are puffed up with righteous indignation and every cell of our body is bent on vengeful retaliation, that we aren’t so wonderful ourselves. God does not retaliate when we sin and hurt Him, but loves us in spite of ourselves. We should try and do likewise to those who hurt and injure us.

Is that too tall an order? — that we, imperfect and fallen creatures, should behave more like God?

Don’t we owe it to Him to at least try?

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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11 responses to “Sunday Devotional: Do good to those who hate you

  1. And with Your Spirit, amén. I’ve made the mistake to give so much wanting to get back as much, and all I have received has been deceit, so I pick up the pieces and refrain from trust.

     
  2. Thank you Dr. Eowyn. That is such an important piece of advice. The Lord tied the effectiveness of our faith directly to our practice of forgiveness. And “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” is the critical connection to our walk with the Father. And yet, with our awful politicians I often forget these lessons, and as a result, my prayers become weak.
    So, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, I forgive you for the sake of our Lord’s good Name. As much as I can stir up my soul to generosity, I forgive you, and ask for the Lord’s mercy and love to reach you and your loved ones, really.

     
  3. TD . . . . Thank you for mentioning both Pelosi and Schumer . . . of all the difficult things to do, loving them and forgiving them for what would appear to be traitorous activity in order that they get and retail more voters . . . this is monumentally difficult. Here is where we have to put our hand in the hand of Our Lord and Savior, and follow his teachings blindly.

    As a non-perfect person, I would want to be judged in the least harsh terms possible, so I guess I know exactly what it is that I have to do in order to bring that about.

    Dr Eowyn . . . This is such a difficult commandment to carry out. Thank you for framing it so exquisitely. For so many of us, we need to be constantly reminded of loving our enemies.

     
    • Auntie Lulu, you are so forgiving it makes your heart big. I leave the forgiving in God’s hands, and for those that caused hurt I can only say May God have mercy on you.

       
  4. I could not understand Our Lord’s words when I was younger, and I cannot understand them totally now. But, suffice it to say, my enemies and tormentors and I both share the same fallen human nature. We both have the same hopes and dreams and aspirations, whether we’re able to consummate them or not.

    I think Our Lord is talking about agape love here. “Love one another as I have loved you.” In other words, love without expecting repayment. Why? A passenger told me many years ago, “There are two kinds of people in life, terminals and channels.” He went on to explain that there are some people who don’t help you get to where you have to get to. After terminals deal with you, you’re left exactly where you started. But channels help you go to where you have to get to; After dealing with channels, you’re ahead of where you once were.

    I think this explanation elucidated something for me. Make no mistake: Christianity is often thought of as a religion for losers: Ted Turner said so himself. The truth is that Christianity is not a religion of masochism, not a religion for self-pitying losers. Christ Himself knew this, and He Knew that an improper understanding—a misunderstanding of His Words here—would lead to thinking what Ted Turner said. In a way, Our Lord is excluding those people, at least to this extent: As Christ is seen in paintings and murals, He is never seen pointing to His Head; He is always pointing toward His Sacred Heart. Our Lord’s words here would tend to turn away the intellectual, the know-it-all who relies on his own understanding alone.

    In other words, Our Lord’s meaning can be intuited, in part, by what He does not say, in whom He does not address. It is as if he is saying to the intellectual, “Physician, heal Thyself.” But agape love is the only possible answer to the impossibility of human life in this world of sin.

    And Our Lord is not calling upon us to be masochists or losers. He is not denying the real need for Justice, but rather to allow agape love to temper everything we do. (I have every intention of suing the woman who falsely accused me, for I rightly imagine she is on the lookout for her next victim. To refuse to seek Justice would be, in all honesty, a refusal of agape love—especially as I suspect she had a partner in what was done to me. She also intended to file an anonymous claim against my insurance. Rather than cower, I intend to charge. This is not any sort of romantic or fantasy love; It is agape love because Justice must be done).

    Our Lord’s Words in this post remain somewhat cryptic; I don’t think they can be understood fully in this life. Rather, I believe His intent was that we should do our best to “flesh them out,” as that, detest our enemy as we may, revenge or vengeance is never a good motive.

     
  5. Well this is certainly the one I find the most difficult too. I do believe that we are all sinners, and it blocks our connection with God when we harbor unforgiveness and hate. I am very quick to forgive except in one set of people. The politicians. Why is it so hard? Because I think in so many instances, it is not a question of weakness or error on their parts, but out and out pure evil. How does one forgive pure evil; like a psychopath who relishes killing and hurting people? Or as we know, many of our leaders are involved with child sacrifice. These are people that have given their souls over to the lord of darkness and are hoping to see everyone of us nothing more than a feudal serf with no human dignity, if not dead, because we are taking up space on THEIR planet. How bout those nice folks at the drug companies that push vaccines that they know are killing and maiming kids causing families unbelievable stress and pain. Quite frankly it is beyond me. I wish I could, but I have to leave this one to God. If someone knows HOW you forgive that kind of evil please share. When Jesus said, ” forgive them, they know not what they do” I think he was speaking of the Romans and esp. the Roman soldiers who had no idea who he was, but the Pharisees knew exactly what they were doing. I seriously don’t know that he meant to include those from the Sanhedrin. Did he welcome them all into heaven?

     
    • I, too, find it difficult, almost impossible, to think that when Jesus told us to “love our enemies” or “judge not, lest ye be judged,” He means we are not to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil. How are we to “love” Ted Bundy, Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong? Nor do priests, in their homilies, ever define what “love” our enemies means. What does “love” mean in actual behaviors? Are we to overlook genuine evil like Planned Parenthood, where aborted babies’ organs and tissues are harvested and sold? And where, in increasing numbers of states (e.g., New York, Virginia….), not just late-term but post-birth abortions are perfomed? Why and how can we “love” and “do good to” these unrepentant evil-doers?

       
      • Thank you for commenting Dr. It is somewhat comforting to see that I am not the only one who finds this whole thing very difficult. I have actually gone to confession for wishing negative things about some of our ” leaders”, so the desire to do as Jesus instructed us is there in me, but in my heart of hearts I feel no love for mercy for them because they appear as demons to me. I certainly have turned the other cheek in situations with unkind neighbors who are mean spirited, and do un-neighborly things, but loving and forgiving the demons that inhabit high places seems like a whole other thing to me.

         
      • I have a problem with that, also. But I think Christ is talking about agape love, giving without expecting a repayment, while at the same time understanding that these people—monsters that they may be—share the same fallen human nature that we have. They are not “strange visitors from another planet”: They are human beings, however vile they may be.

        I would not say that the agape love Christ demands would ever “excuse” an evil, to the contrary: Justice must be done, whenever possible. But the Justice can be done with at least the attitude of agape love.

        How to love a Hitler or Mao? Hey—how can I love or respect the man who made it clear he could kill me? For one thing, I could bring the matter to Our Lord in prayer, imploring that cooler heads must prevail first.

        In any event, certain people really are monsters. We may DETEST them but we must try to never make it a personal matter. That’s when the Devil puts his cloven foot out to trip us. That’s what I’ve found.

         
  6. This ability must be prayed for. It comes from the Holy Spirit, it is not something man has the power to do. Bearing grudges only harms us, not the object of our hatred. Their justice will come from a higher source than us.

     
    • That’s right: The Christian life cannot, in human terms, be lived without Grace. The Christian life described in the Gospels CANNOT be lived without real Divine Grace. We have to be “plugged in” to God by daily prayer, Mass, etc. That’s my understanding of it.

       

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