Being loving and kind to loving and kind people is easy … But Jesus commanded us to be loving and kind to even unloving and unkind people.
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you… “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! (Luke 6:27-28, 32-33 NLT)
Think of your day-to-day life and situations you experience where people are unkind to you. They may be an unkind person in general, or it may be situational because they’re having a bad day. Either way, as Christians, what should our response be?
Jesus tells us to: love; do good; bless; pray; give; not expect back; be compassionate; not judge; not condemn; forgive.
What does that type of response look like?
Your spouse comes home from work in a crabby mood and the air in the house gets heavy as soon as they walk in the door. Chances are they’re looking for a fight and it would be pretty easy to jump right in. But instead you greet them with a smile and a kiss. Offer to take their coat. Allow them to vent. This kind of sugar will sweeten the whole mood and change the course of the evening.
You’re driving along and the person in the car next to you cuts you off and then starts honking and throwing up gestures as though it were your fault. As much as you would like to speak their sign-language right back to them, instead you offer a friendly wave and a smile. It will leave them stumped and keep you from stewing about it for the rest of the day. It will also keep a bad situation from getting worse.
Your boss doesn’t like life and he regularly takes it out on everyone around him. Instead of joining in on the slam sessions at the water cooler and deciding not to work hard for him, you decide to do the opposite. You go above and beyond in all your work. (You are, after all, working for God and not man. Ephesians 6:7). You smile and speak kindly no matter how grumbly he may be. Your positive attitude might even be contagious and change the mood of the whole office.
Then there’s the really hard part. Jesus says: “Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. Forgive others.”
Some of us may not even fully understand the depth of these commands having never experienced the kind of hurt that leaves you scarred physically and emotionally.
But I have heard many stories of people that have experienced tremendous pain at the hands of another person – and have responded with the kind of love, grace and forgiveness that seems humanly impossible. And they acknowledge that without their Savior, Jesus, they would be in a totally different place. Without the response of love, grace and forgiveness they would be living in a dark and ugly place, looking for revenge that could never be fully satisfied. Instead, they protected their heart from this ugliness and allowed the final outcome to be up to God. And their reward from heaven will be very great. (Luke 6:35)