Luke 6:[32] “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. [33] And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. [34] And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. [35] But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. [36] Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Anyone can love those who love them. Anyone can be good to those who are good to them. Anyone can lend money to people they know will pay them back – this is what the banking system is built on – you only lend to people who you know can pay you back. (Actually, when it comes to banking, it often seems that the only people who can get a loan are those who can prove that they don’t need it anyway, but we digress.)

Jesus’ point here seems to be that Kingdom citizens are not just anyone. They are people who are able to do what “anyone” would find too hard to do, too unreasonable to do or too dangerous to do.

We are often fond of pointing out when we approach this teaching of Jesus, both here and in Matthew, what it does not mean. It does not mean that you have to give all your money away; it does not mean that you should be everyone’s doormat. That probably needs to be said. Jesus did also say that we should not cast our pearls before swine and that at least means that we have to make the call regarding who the swine are (Matthew 7:6).

But let us not explain this teaching away. Jesus is saying that the believer’s ethic is different from those who are not believers. He operates on a different understanding regarding what life is about. He does not do good only because of what others will say or do to him or because others have been good to him. He will do good to those who cannot repay, will not appreciate it and may not return it with good to you. They may even respond with opposition and abuse. Jesus’ response? Do good to them anyway. This goes against everything in us. We are wired to do good to those who will do good to us and oppose those who are not. And that is Jesus’ point. Followers of Christ have been rewired.

But this does not mean that we do not need anything back as a reward for our actions. We may not care what the world will think about us, but we care a great deal about what God thinks. We will obey these difficult commands of Jesus because we want a better reward than what anyone else can give. Jesus plainly says so in verse 35:

[35] But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

Christians are not those who do good never expecting or wanting a reward for their actions. They are those who do what Jesus commands them knowing that they will get a better reward later. We do not live for the thanks a person will give us. We live for the “well done” that the Father will give us. We do not care if obeying these instructions of Jesus result in popularity or money or fame, even on a small scale. We do care that we receive the reward that God has in store for us when we go to meet Him.

Why will I love those who hate me? Why will I do good to those who return it with evil? Why will I lend to those who may never pay me back? Because I have a greater, better reward from God coming to me. This is faith. You will not live like Jesus is telling us to live here if you do not believe it is ultimately worthwhile. Do we really believe that God is going to reward us? Do we really believe it is worth it to obey such difficult commandments? The test of faith is how we live in the nitty-gritty world where we are called upon to do some very difficult things. Faith without works is dead and this kind of action demonstrates the real thing.

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