“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 payment, 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 children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:31-46 (NIV)
Have you ever struggled to live up to this high standard? Jesus’ words speak volumes in this passage of scripture. This isn’t some standard of behavior thought up by a theologian or teacher. It is God’s standard for us as His children!
He knows we’re not perfect, just as we know our children will mess up and fall short of what we expect of them. But that doesn’t keep us from setting a high standard of behavior for them. And be certain – they are watching our example. Our Heavenly Father gives us His example to follow. He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked and He is merciful.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m honest with myself, my natural tendency is to think negative thoughts about people who haven’t been especially good to me, my family, or my friends. I rationalize this by mentally judging their behaviors and feeling justified in my assessment. Yet, Jesus calls you and me to a higher standard.
May each of us reach toward the higher standard God has for us as believers. Of course we can’t do this in the flesh, but we can have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives as we walk in the Spirit. John 15: 5 (NIV) admonishes us to, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
May God empower us to live up to His higher standard as we endeavor to be more like Christ.