Monday, March 31, 2014

Loving your enemies part 2 (Luke 6:28-30)

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. (Luke 6:28-30 NASB)

We continue the passage on loving your enemies. Jesus offered a three-step plan for loving your enemies that involved our hearts, our minds, and our bodies. Praying for our enemies was a critical part of loving them. 

Jesus followed those instructions with examples of mistreatment that would need to be forgiven, done by enemies that would need to be loved. He describes physical violence, stealing/robbery, and unpaid debts.  The examples are all examples of betrayal. The first is a betrayal towards your physical person, the second a betrayal toward your possessions, and the third is a betrayal of trust. 

In every instance, Jesus recommends a very unexpected, nonviolent, response. Turn the other cheek, offer your shirt along with your coat, let the debt go. It's one thing not to fight back. It's another thing entirely to do the surprising act of giving more than has been taken. It makes no sense to us, but it is a very powerful response. In a way, it changes us from victims into victors because it gives us a measure of generosity and control. It loosens our own hold on our possessions. If everything we have is a gift from God, then it is more His than ours. By letting God deal with those who have wronged us, we put the responsibility on the One who can right every wrong. 

How easy it is to get caught up in the wrong that has been done! We can spend years trying to set things right. Choosing not to become embroiled in retaliation sets us free to serve Christ and be about our business. Loving our enemies and forgiving those who have wronged us is mostly for our own benefit. It allows us to avoid the snare of bitterness and anger. 

Has someone wronged you or your loved ones? Are you struggling with unforgiveness or a desire for revenge? Listen to the words of Jesus. "Offer the other... Do not withhold... Do not demand..."  It is a radical response. It's not easy, but it is required. 

Pray today that our response to every wrong would be one of generosity and love. Pray that our loved ones will be so surprised by our response  thst they will be drawn to Jesus. 
Here's the link to last night's post: