A Different Kind of Loving
Jesus calls His followers to a counter-cultural way of living. He calls us to love our enemies just as He loves His enemies. He didn’t love us because we befriended Him. He loved us in our sin. He loved us when we had made ourselves his enemies.
Matthew 5:46–47 “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?”
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Jesus is pressing home the point with force. He’s saying, “What’s the difference between you and those enemies of yours? What shows you are different from the tax collectors you hate? Your uniqueness as a follower of Jesus is your love. We are salt and light in the world. We are those who travel the second mile for those who compel us by force to go the first. In the Gospel of John, we are reminded we will be identified as His disciples because of our love for one another. God, who is love, lives in us and wants to express His love through us. Loving our enemies is transformative. It is a supernatural act.
And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? You have to try and remember tax collectors were despised by everyone. Being compared to a tax collector was as low as you could go. It does remind us we’re always trying to limit our liability. When Jesus taught about loving your neighbor the Pharisees asked who their neighbor was. In response, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. In Jewish thought there was no such thing as a good Samaritan but Jesus makes a Samaritan the hero. What are you doing more than others? There is a high price to be paid for true Christian living. It costs everything! Remember, the Christian life isn’t about self-denial but denial of self! When we deny ourselves, deny our opinions, deny our preferences, deny our tastes we will no longer determine what we do or how we feel. When we deny self we no longer seek the approval of men or are concerned with the approval of friends; being approved by God is all that matters. It is only true for those who say experientially, “I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me.”
As Christ lives through us it will be expressed in a radically different way of living and loving. In active surrender we begin to see God do the impossible in and through us. I trust you’ll be sensitive to allow Christ in you to love your enemies and those who’ve wounded you.
You are loved!