UPDATEDToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought was first posted on August 21, 2013.
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“The Dread of Having to Love Them”
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 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[a] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But 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, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Loving, doing good things, blessing, and praying for others are not that difficult, and these are things we all try to do. Yet, it is almost impossible for us to do such noble things for others if they are “undeserving” because of their bad character and misdeeds.
Then there is this other problem. Each subsection to today’s passage concludes with the real reason behind practicing the kingdom characteristics (vv. 31, 36). Now, after reading “as you would have them do to you,” immediately you have a problem since no one has, does, or will do those things to you. There is that sense of dread since you will be the only one making the effort to do good, while there may be no reciprocation nor reward; this is to say, doing good to others does not guarantee that others will do the same in return.
But when we read from the next verse 32, the reward is not from this world or from others. God give us a “credit” for what we have done. Our goal in life is to receive rewards from our Heavenly Father. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” In addition, Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” Our goal in life is to be like our Father in heaven (v. 35).
Perhaps, we are called to do good to the undeserving because, if we don’t, we may be tempted to retaliate. When we do not love others the way that Jesus tells us to, as in this passage, we will not be in a neutral position; but rather our attitude will be the extreme opposite: hatred, doing evil, cursing, and prayerlessness.
Pray that you walk in a manner worthy of your identity—as God’s child.
Prayer: God, You have been so good to me more and beyond what others could possibly do for me. Thank You for Your mercy. I pray that my identify as Your child is renewed today. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 18