from Luke 6:27-36
"Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you..."
• Last week beginning of sermon on the plain… Jesus has come down from the mountain, from seeking God and from naming disciples, he has healed and cast out demons, he delivered the blessings and the woes (remember, makarios and oo-eye), and he has been God’s love incarnate, down and dirty among the crowd.
• He’s been demonstrating, this is how you live as a disciple. And he continues with some pointed examples of how disciples are to interact with people. People we know, sure, but especially people we have tough times with… we might say opponents, Jesus says enemies, those who hate you, those who curse you or mistreat you.
• There are some new HS graduates among us, gonna “go out into the world” soon. Just a heads up, along the way you will run into some trying circumstances, some difficult people, and how you respond to those circumstances and people is important, shows the depth and strength of your character. Sometimes your classmates or coworkers will be difficult, maybe get on your nerves, push your buttons, maybe annoy you, maybe much worse. It might be that you have a customer or client who is difficult, or it may be a teacher or supervisor or boss. But rest assured, you will interact with difficult people, sooner or later, and probably sooner. Might’s well get used to it.
You don’t have much control over what people do to you, how they interact with you. But what you DO have control over is how you respond to them, and I would tell you those words of Jesus: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…
We all love our friends, and it’s easy to respond in kind to people when they treat us well or when they mistreat us, but we have a higher calling. There is no place in the Christian’s life for vengeance or retaliation. (repeat).
Revenge and retaliation, those are worldly values, and they produce lousy fruit. What’s the result of an act of revenge? Retaliation. Payback. A nasty cycle, and one that does nothing to point people to God. We want to be about things that point people to God
Love them. They may not receive your love, but love them anyway. Love them regardless of how they treat you.
Love them by listening to them, by taking an interest in them (even if you’re not interested in them). Love them by listening to them, because when you listen to them you understand them more, it’s like you walk in their shoes a little bit, and maybe you learn some of the reasons they are the way they are. Love them by listening to them, because it makes them human, and God loves them, too.
(insert Stephen Covey's story about the paradigm shift on the subway... Google it, you'll find it)
• Some day you’ll meet God face to face. I believe one of the things God is interested in is “how did you treat other people?” Specifically “how did you treat difficult people, how did you treat the people that mistreated you? When people wronged you, did you wrong them right back? Did you live like my Son, did you love like my Son?
If you love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return, you will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.
Make your Father proud.
• Graduate recognition. Live life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Do your Father proud.