On June 21, 2009 I preached a sermon from Luke 6:27-49 where Jesus was challenging us from his Word about loving enemies and GOING OUT OF OUR WAY to do good to those who mistreat us. Which is big, and hard, and when you really think about it is at least a little bit offensive – particularly if you’ve been mistreated in significant ways.
And my point was it’s hard but not impossible.
You can download it here under the title: Hard but not Impossible
And I said that I saw at least 5 answers in the passage to the question: How is that even possible? Day after day, how do you do it?
Here they are.
1) We mentioned this one on Sunday, you need a new heart. God has to be at work to change your heart. No one can change a person’s heart. I can’t change your heart, you can’t change your heart. Only God can change your heart.
There’s a thought that love is about doing and not feeling. That love is a verb, an action word. And I know what that’s reacting against – that love is only about feelings and when the feelings go then you just give up. But this passage speaks of love as BOTH doing and feeling. You have to do good to enemies AND genuinely want God to bless them. And you won’t be able to do that without God’s help and a new heart.
2) Number 2 we also mentioned. To be able to love enemies like this, even in the face of disrespect – slap on the cheek, even in the threat to security – no cloak or tunic, even in the loss of your stuff – giving away your stuff and not expecting it back, you need to have your treasure in heaven not on earth. You need to have something you love more than honour and respect. Something you love more than security. Something you love more than stuff and financial security. Jesus needs to be your treasure in heaven, whom you love and value more than honour and security and stuff.
3) We didn’t get to, but this reason comes out of Luke 6:35, which says:
35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great
You look to your reward. People often feel uncomfortable about talking like this, talking as though we should do good in order to get some reward. Shouldn’t doing good be its own reward? Doesn’t doing something good for someone else but doing it for you get undermine the good deed and take something away from it?
Jesus doesn’t seem to think so. He says, “Do good to your enemies because when you do God will reward you.” In fact, Jesus talks like this a lot. Often. For example, just a few verses down in verses 37-38 he says:
37“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
4) Also in verse 35 Jesus says:
35But 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 sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Do good to your enemies, and you will be sons of the Most High. If you’re a girl don’t get too hung up on the “sons” talk. When he says “sons” he means “heirs”, “inheritors”. In those days women weren’t heirs, only blokes were. So when Jesus calls you a son he’s not talking down to you, he’s speaking about you with a ton of respect and dignity.
And he doesn’t mean, doing good to enemies MAKES you a son. Because we know good works don’t make anyone a son of God. Faith, trusting, makes someone a son of God. Here Jesus means doing good to enemies PROVES that you are a Son, because you’ll have the family resemblance. Chip off the old block. And that’s what we want, right? That’s what I want. I desperately wanna be like Jesus.
I want people to say, “Man, the way you act reminds me a lot of Jesus.” That’d be great. At the moment that never happens. But maybe one day that’d be nice if it could be true.
So number 4 is you treat your enemies well and that will DISPLAY, both to others and to yourself, that you really are a son of the Most High.
5) And lastly, verse 36 says:
36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
You can treat your enemies like this, actively pursuing their good even at great cost to yourself, because that’s exactly how God treated you.
10For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
I was God’s enemy. And yet, through great cost to himself, in Jesus, he treated me very kindly. And so the more you can grasp the enormity of what God has done for you on the cross and in giving you His Spirit, and adopting you and all those blessings that he pours onto you, the more you can get that the more you’ll be able to love others.
A few weeks later we preached on Luke 7:36-50 and the sinful woman washes Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair. And Jesus’ point is: Those who’ve been forgiven much will love much.
And his point there is they love the one who forgave them, but here in Luke 6:36 Jesus’ point is those who have been loved and forgiven much by God will love and forgive much in others. Be merciful, because you know how much your Father has been merciful to you.
You can do this. You have a new heart. You have a greater treasure. You have a reward coming. You have a family likeness to display. And you have a merciful Father who has already treated you like this.