Choosing to Love the Unlovable
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. — Luke 6:35
Some things in the Bible are hard to understand, especially as a beginning Christian. This scripture is one of them. In Luke 6, Jesus says we should do good to people who do not appreciate our goodness. We should actually show love to our enemies. We should loan to people we know won’t pay us back. We should just give our stuff to people when they ask for it and not demand it back when they don‘t return it. Jesus says even sinners do things for people they know they can trust. As His followers, we don’t get to be like everybody else. We are to purposefully show love to those we don’t even like.
This has to be the hardest thing in the world. Several years ago, a few of the teachers at my school discussed this from an educational perspective. We concluded that this tells us as teachers that we should give our best to the students that we wish we could kick right on out of our classes. Every teacher likes to teach the “good” kids. Jesus would say “even sinners love to teach the good kids.” However, we as followers of Jesus must treat the “bad” students the same as the good. In most cases this will require extra effort and time on our part. If you are like me, you say “why in the world would I want to do that when I know it won’t help?” Those kids won’t do the work. It won’t make a difference. They won’t pay attention. They won’t care. They won’t __________. Why should we do this when we know we probably won’t get anything in return?
Here are three reasons:
1. God just might intervene and use us as the tool that gets one or more of “those” kids back on track. We could be the ones that help them break free and do something with their lives. Maybe by the way we show that we care, we make them want to become good students and make something of themselves. Maybe they don’t recognize what we were doing until they are older and become parents. Maybe they choose to break the cycle of destruction in their own family line and their behavior stops with them and does not repeat for another generation. Maybe it is a future teacher down the road that reaps the reward of our work. If this happened with one out of a hundred kids, wouldn’t it be worth it?
2. We are the most like God when we do this. He gave His Son to die for us when we didn’t deserve it. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). He gave us His best expecting no immediate gratification. In light of that . . . How can we not do the same for others and show the world what He is like?
3. He will REWARD us! In Luke 6:35 it says if we do this “your reward will be great.” I don’t know what this means as far as being rewarded down here or in Heaven when we get there, but I don’t really care either way. If someone takes from me and I can just let it go, or if I give and don’t expect anything in return, whatever God chooses to reward me with will be MUCH better than just getting back whatever it was that was taken from me in the first place. His rewards are ten thousand times better than man‘s rewards.
I know this is tough stuff. Just don’t think that because I’m writing this that I have it all together and do this perfectly. The only thing I’ve become really good at is recognizing that I failed to do it after the fact. But sometimes, and I mean sometimes, I get this right and it opens the door to the ultimate conversation. Eventually, somebody always asks “Why are you like this?” My answer is always the same . . .
Because the living Lord Jesus Christ . . . is like this to me!