A LIFE OF GRACE
Dear Father, thank you for your love for me. Where I fall short of loving others as I should, forgive me and make me more like Jesus.
Read LUKE 6:27-42
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 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. 35 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 children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives, along with the command, the love itself.’1
Corrie ten Boom somehow survived the horror of concentration and death camps during the second world war. She later came across a former SS man who had guarded her, who approached to shake her hand. This reminded her of the horrid pain she had experienced and she knew she couldn’t forgive this man in her own strength. The above quote is her reflection, and her life shows the power of God’s strength to forgive and love people she could not bring herself to love in her own strength.
Jesus is clear in his instruction about loving enemies and forgiveness. His main argument is simple – God calls us to be merciful because he is merciful. The extent of our ability to avoid judgment and forgive is the extent to which this will be returned to us. The image of grain measured in a basket is not about financial giving but about this kind of mercy and judgment (vs 36–38). If we are critical, we will receive criticism. If we treat others generously, graciously, and compassionately, these qualities will come back to us: ‘For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ (v 38).
I’ve heard it said that ‘Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.’ We think it will harm the one toward whom we are bitter, but instead it only harms us. Forgiveness is a choice we must make for our own sake, before bitterness takes root and defiles many.2 According to Jesus, we do this because we understand God’s mercy to us. A revelation of grace leads to a life of forgiveness. To forgive is never to condone the wrong done, nor to overlook its damaging consequences. Nevertheless, it is the expression of discipleship to which Jesus uncompromisingly calls us.
A life of grace is a beautiful thing – and it is God’s grace that enables this. Make the decision to forgive today, trusting that your heart will catch up.
Lord Jesus, you went to the cross to pay for the sins of those who put you there. Help me to express that kind of love for those I would consider unlovable; help me to forgive.
1 Corrie ten Boom, 1892–1983 2 Heb 12:15
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