But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, give them your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get then back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
If you only love those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, jus as your Father is compassionate.Luke 6:27-36 (NLT)
“But to you who are willing to listen…” tells us from the start of this passage that we aren’t going to like this one. This all goes against everything the world tells us to do. This goes against everything we teach ourselves about “the cold, hard world around us.”
We are taught not to let other people take advantage of us. And if you read this at a surface level, you might think that this is what this passage is about. This passage isn’t outrightly saying to let anyone and everyone take advantage of you. I think it’s more or less telling us to change our mindset at the root when it comes to helping, giving, lending, loving, and feeling hurt. Meaning –
If you are constantly looking around making sure that no one “gets one over on you,” then you’re setting yourself up to fail here.
If you already know that when someone hurts you, your first response will be hostility or feeling the need to get even, then you are setting yourself up to fail here.
If when looking for ways to show acts of kindness or generosity, and you only look to the people and places that either (in your eyes) “deserve it” or people that were nice or you, then you’ve missed an opportunity to show an example of God’s crazy love.
So what’s the why here? Why love your enemies? Why “turn the other cheek”? Why do good without expecting anything in return? Why pray for those who hurt you? Why give to those who seem undeserving?
Just because God says so? No.
Crazy acts of love and kindness are the kind of actions that allow “undeserving” people to see God in this world. Insane acts of generosity and care plant seeds in the lives of people who witness them. And the world can’t stop a seed that God is watering.
We can only live out these verses if we reconstruct the way we think about them, from the root. If you can root yourself in the strength from God that it takes to love and nourish a harsh, undeserving world (because I’m not blind here – this is a HARD cross to carry some days), then you will be utterly amazed at the beautiful things God makes grow around you.
Some seeds take weeks, months, even years to fully grow into something worth celebrating. And we have to be careful to not carry the burden of forcing seeds to grow, or feeling disappointed when we don’t see immediate results from the seeds that we feel like we are planting. That’s God’s job. You are the planter, God is the grower.
There will be days that you wonder why you give your light to others. But using your light to try and bring another’s to life doesn’t dim your light at all, it only creates more light. Don’t let the world cause you to blow out your own light before you even get to use it.