“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But 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 children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. — Luke 6:32-36
If I only love those who love me, am I really loving? If I am only kind and generous to those I have an affinity for, am I really kind and generous? Lest I believe that I am really generous because of how lavishly I give to people I enjoy giving to, I have to come back to the words of Christ. Lest I believe that I truly am a lover of people simply because I love my friends and family, I need the sober awakening of His words.
His words are not a harsh rebuke, as much as it’s a reflection of who He is. Jesus is not speaking against loving those who love us nor being a good friend to people we like, but it’s a call deeper. A call that ultimately challenges us to be more like Him. Even the greatest exploits for the Kingdom of God are in vain unless we have love. What we think is gain actually is nothing without the prerequisite of love.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” — 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Am I loving? Lord, that You would teach me to love. To truly love. Love beyond my comforts. Love beyond my convenience. Love beyond what’s natural. A sacrificial, selfless, Christlike love. Amen.