Luke 6:32-36 (NIV): “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Anyone can love nice people. It’s no trick to return a favor. And it shows no godliness at all to lend money to someone in need when you expect to get it back with interest. Anyone, even sinners, do these things. As some put it, “Even atheists are nice people.” (Sometimes they add, “Even nicer than a lot of Christians,” which, unfortunately, is often true.) God’s grace shows in the hearts of His people when we love people who are NOT nice, praying for them, helping them, and showing genuine love in ways that are humble and self-sacrificing. And we show this love NOT in order to get something from these people, not even a change of heart, but because God’s love for these sinners shines all the way through us. God’s grace shows in the hearts of His people when we do nice things for people who have NOT done nice things for us- returning blessing for curses, and when we do nice things for people who will never be able to return the favor. God’s grace shows in the hearts of His people when we choose to not loan money at interest to those in need, but loan at no interest, never planning on having the loan repaid. Then God will fill our lives with His abundances. Living a “good life” before the lost does nothing to draw them closer to God – many of the lost live good lives, too. But living GOD’S life before them, a life of self sacrifice for no gain; a life of love in the face of hatred, mistreatment, and persecution; a life of love, care and generosity when none of these is deserved or even expected; ALL of these will make people sit up and take notice, and will open the door to be able to speak God’s name into their lives.
Father, this is very exciting! Help us ALL to live this kind of life, starting right now. Help us to be intentional – to look for the opportunities to live Your life of light in our sin-darkened world. To live Your life of healing and wholeness in our sin-battered world. To show the world that we are indeed Your children by being merciful just as You are merciful. Amen.