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Sunday Devotional: Do good to those who hate you

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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