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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 6:27–38

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (NRSV)

For me, this scripture presents a challenging command. To be perfectly honest, I get defensive when I read “Love your enemies.” It seems easy to be good to those who treat me well. In contrast, I find it difficult to love people who cause me some form of emotional stress, such as anger or heartache.

All of us have enemies. An enemy can be the result of an unintended consequence, or a variation in character may lead to a strained relationship. Other times individuals may dislike you for no apparent reason. Regardless of how you get the enemy, Christ saying we are to love our enemies is not intended as a simple suggestion.

Everyone has a reason for not loving an enemy. How many times have you heard “She did it to me first,” “They simply don’t understand,” “They don’t see things the same way I do.” All of us have justification for holding ill feelings toward others.

You may think it impossible to love those enemies. With Christ-centered focus it may not be as complicated as you think. The formula for unconditional love is perfectly demonstrated in Romans 5:8: “God demonstrated love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Although we were out of relationship with God, grace and mercy was absolute. God loves us beyond our ability to earn it. Even in our errant condition, God does not hold a grudge or remember our shortcomings. God loves each of us unconditionally.

The next time you feel as though you have been wronged, remember the love God has for you and ask for divine help to share that love.

Loving God, help us take the words of Christ seriously and to extend grace and mercy to others in times when we feel wronged. Amen.

Written by Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministry

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