Sunday, February 23, 2014

Indiscriminate love

"Give to him who asks you."
Published in 1899 - Artist unknown.

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 5:38-48

TO CHEW ON: "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven..." Matthew 5:44,45

How do I handle people stepping on my toes, not literally, but figuratively? That's the question I'm asking myself as I read the list of personal rights infractions with which Jesus challenges His listeners (Matthew 5:38-42). I realize, as I read the way Jesus told His disciples to react, that I'm pretty entrenched in the modern I-have-my-rights way of thinking. I would never naturally turn the other cheek for another slap, give my sweater to a thief who has just taken my jacket, volunteer to work extra hours of forced labour, or willingly lend to the neighbourhood mooch who never returns things.

The behaviour Jesus taught is love that goes way beyond the usual tit-for-tat. It's me and you loving:
- By choice. It takes a firm act of the will to react in such an anti-intuitive way.
- Indiscriminately. Everybody is a candidate for this kind of love, no matter what their behaviour.
- Practically. Besides giving in, it blesses, does good and prays for the loved one.

The point is not to be a pushover but to prove that we are children of God, whose very DNA is love, and who went to the greatest length to prove His love to us (John 3:16).

So how do I change from an I'll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine type of lover to the indiscriminate lover Jesus describes? A sidebar article in my Bible sheds some light on this:
"A major emphasis of Jesus' teaching is how to build and maintain right relationships with God and others. He views these relationships as neither unimportant nor extraneous, but as vital components of our Christian lives. Knowing God is our highest priority, but this pursuit should not replace or diminish our interpersonal relationships with others. Rather, our personal interaction with God should produce within us the qualities of character that build and sustain all our relationships" - Leslyn Musch, New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1439 (emphasis added).

PRAYER: Dear God, I read these things and realize how little family likeness is in me. Help me to get to know You so well, to be so much Your daughter, that demonstrating Your love to others will become second nature. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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