If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?
…For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 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. 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. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-26)
Love is not like.
If we love those who love us back, what benefit is that to us? The implication is “none.” After all, even sinners love those who love them back. This kind of transactional “love” is really a form of “like” in my opinion. We love some of our friends, but we like a lot more. When an outer circle friendship stops being what we enjoy, it is fairly easy to make adjustments to see each other less and back off.
The only way we can know if God’s love is free to flow through us is if we interact with an “enemy,” or someone we don’t like. Do we do good to people we don’t like while expecting nothing in return? Do we die to what we want in order to be in a relationship with them? Do we not care if they they don’t say thank you? Is it okay if they can’t — or won’t — reciprocate the kindness we extend to them? If so, we are then loving someone we don’t like.
It is a good thing God does not like us; He loves us.
Even though He hates our sinful nature, He sent His Son to die for our sin as payment because He loves us: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
This year I observed a person wrinkle her nose in disgust while saying, “I don’t like the word hate.” At the time, I was making the point that God hates sin, not because He is hateful but because He is holy. Since He is pure and perfect, His nature hates sin and evil. (Proverbs 6:16-19) I honestly wonder if it is possible to understand God’s love until we understand how much His holiness hates sin. How else could we truly understand the miracle that He loves us enough to send His Son to die for sin He hates in order to have a relationship with us?
Jesus loves enough to die.
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. (Matthew 26:39)
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)
A prayer as we approach Christmas: Thank you, Jesus, for being born to die for people who had no interest in having a relationship with you at all — including me. This Christmas, take me deeper into the miracle of your arrival. May I better understand the gravity of sin more than I do today so that I can better appreciate the miracle of your love. Amen
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Picture Explanation: The Christmas photos of our grandchildren are particularly precious this year.
Speaking of comprehending the love of God: If you are interested in being contacted to participate in a One Gritty Blink Bible study, click on the Oaks Ministries link below and send me an email so I can place you on a list to be contacted as online and face-to-face studies are planned. Let’s not just focus on things in this short life, but also what counts for eternity!
Note: No part of my posts are derived from A.I. Thoughts and writing stem from my mind and heart as I process life week-by-week and continue to grow in my understanding of God and how to apply His wisdom to the world around me.
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