Luke 6:32-36 (CEV)
32 If you love only someone who loves you, will God praise you for that? Even sinners love people who love them. 33 If you are kind only to someone who is kind to you, will God be pleased with you for that? Even sinners are kind to people who are kind to them. 34 If you lend money only to someone you think will pay you back, will God be pleased with you for that? Even sinners lend to sinners because they think they will get it all back.
35 But love your enemies and be good to them. Lend without expecting to be paid back. Then you will get a great reward, and you will be the true children of God in heaven. He is good even to people who are unthankful and cruel.36 Have pity on others, just as your Father has pity on you.
A Different Way
I’m one of those people who likes to achieve things. I’m naturally geared to being effective and efficient. That means that I have lots of flaws, and over the years I have achieved (pun intended) many … ahem … “wonderful” names to go along with these skills.
But the problem with some of these natural tendencies, is that sometimes they can reach out and bite you back! You see, I want, more than anything else in the world, to get to the end of my life and hear God say, “Well done!” I can be the bottom chair at the end of the banqueting table. I can be sitting behind the pillar in the great hall, whatever it is. I don’t need to be at the front, but I want to hear those words. I want to do a good job.
And so I’m constantly checking my work. Like Dr. Phil says, I’m constantly asking myself, “how’s this working out”… for me, for my family, for my friends and those around me.
Unfortunately in doing that I realized that being efficient often wasn’t the same as loving people. That being effective wasn’t something I could get to simply by trying harder or wanting it more. And that if my top goal was achieving things than I could never truly love people.
So it turned out there had to be a different way of doing life. I had to lay down my desire for things to be perfect, my desire for things to be done yesterday, my desire to control things to make sure that they didn’t get messy. I had to decide that love was the top priority – that there was a different way of living being offered by Jesus in this passage and so many others, and that I was never going to get there by doing things the way I saw them done around me.
You see, I saw lots of people focusing on achieving things … but in the process I started to realize that they kept hurting people. I saw lots of people focusing on being efficient … but in the process I began to notice that they had this tendency to leave people outside. I saw people focusing on being effective … but to be able to tell themselves that story they often seemed to have to start by choosing not to see the real person in front of them.
Each of us has a way of living that we grew up surrounded by. It’s normal. It’s what we’ve seen every day of our lives. So it shouldn’t really be very surprising when we act out of those normal patterns of behavior we grew up around.
But if we’re going to join in to this Kingdom story, we are each called to think again.
We want to know how we should live in this new Kingdom world, and we’re going to be tempted to follow the patterns of behavior we grew up with, but we have to check – do they look like the Kingdom? Or do they look like the old broken ways?
Your thing probably isn’t the same as my thing. That’s okay. We each have our own backstory. But whatever your story is, I think Jesus is asking us to take a long hard look at the ways that we live and ask ourselves, “is this love? Or is this just what everyone around me is doing?”Journal Questions:
- My challenge for you this week is to do a bit of reflective practice every evening before bed.
- Using a piece of paper, your computer device of preference or a journal, reflect on your day.
- Was there a time when you thought you were being loving?
- Use the verses above to think about that situation again. What made it loving? What was just the thing that “anyone” would do
- In what situations did you miss the opportunity to love? What made it hard to love at those moments?
- At the end of the week, see if you notice any patterns. Do you find yourself regularly acting in ways that sound like what Jesus is talking about here? What seems to make that easier? What seems to make that harder?
- Are there any changes you’d like to make to the way you do life as a result of this exercise?