“If you love those who love you, what credit 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 credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
People are hard work, aren’t they? If you’ve ever spent any time working with people, trying to lead people, manage people, or guide people, you’ll certainly know that people are hard work.
Jesus’ point in vv.32-34 is that there is a kind of ‘love’ for people that is not different in any way and is, frankly, quite worldly. Loving those who love us, doing good to those who love us, and lending to those who are good to repay us is a very worldly kind of loving. Jesus says, “Actually, no, that’s not how we ought to love one another. Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back.” He then says that this will be rewarded and will show that you are sons of the Most High, because this is how He loves everyone. For good measure, and to summarise, Jesus says that simply, we should be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Is Jesus lying here? Is this lunacy?
I don’t think He is lying. As we said a few days back, all of humanity was in the mind and on the heart of the Lord when He died for their salvation (1 John 2.2, note “whole world”) and that certainly includes the sinners, enemies, ungrateful and evil people of this passage.
Is this lunacy then, does this not correspond to reality? Again, I don’t think so. Jesus is teaching a timeless truth here: God’s love for His creation is otherwordly, something far beyond our human comprehension, merciful, and abundant (Deuteronomy 7.9, Psalm 86.15, 145.8-9, Lamentations 3.22-23, Micah 7.18-19, John 3.16, Ephesians 2.4-5). So, for Jesus to say that we are to love in a self-giving way and that we are to be merciful, just as your Father is merciful corresponds to reality in an historical and long-taught way.
Today then, think about how and who you are loving: are you loving them because it’s easy or because you should?