If You Love
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:44-45)
Love is the unconditional gift that you give to somebody
It is an eternal covenant between you and other, an agreement of commitment to their well being; of putting their needs before your own. It involves feelings and emotions but it is more. Feelings and emotions change, but the agreement remains.
So Jesus asks the question, “if you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”
This is a rhetorical question, but let’s answer it. You get comfort, predictability, familiarity, safety, assurance and reciprocation. Jesus then asks, “Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (insert instead of tax collectors/pagans a group you dislike or feel that you do not want to be associated with)
The answer is yes. It seems we have something foundational in common with the people we hate. We both desire, even need, comfort, predictability, familiarity, safety, assurance and reciprocation in the love we give and receive.
It is a blessing to love and be loved; to be loved is to lack nothing. (Ps 23:1-2) But how can this be? How can those who are not part of our tribe also lack nothing as we do? Because we usually believe God favours us and we are on the right side of history it is hard for us to perceive that God is not playing favourite with his blessings. For Jesus also said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt 5:45)
But there is promise for those who love God and desire to obey to him (Deut 30:16, Exo 23:25, Prov 16:20). Blessing on top of blessing. There is the blessing that comes from the hand of a good, gracious and generous God that falls on all despite their political and religious views. And then there is the blessing on top of the blessing for those who love God. But the blessing is not found in the ordinary but in the extraordinary. It is found in those who do more than just the conventional. Here is the paradox. There is a bigger blessing to be found in loving our enemies than in loving those who love us.
There is a larger blessing in loving those who do not guarantee comfort, predictability, familiarity, safety, assurance and reciprocation. There is greater blessing in loving our enemies because it is what God does when He “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” When we love our enemies we are behaving like our creator; like father like son/daughter (“that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”).
There is blessing upon blessing for those who love as God loves. Somewhere in the paradox there is something better than comfort. Praise be to God.