Kingdom Ethics

Posted: September 11, 2016 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 6:27-36, “Kingdom Ethics”

Today is the 15th anniversary of 9/11.  If you’re like most Americans, you can recall exactly where you were and what you were doing at the moment you heard the news.  For us, we were driving into our work office when we heard a news break on the radio about a plane that had flown into the Twin Towers.  The initial report was that the plane was small, and it sounded like little more than a tragic accident.  When we entered our office building & saw the TV footage, we soon realized we were wrong.  Smoke billowed up from the building, and news cameras were fixed to it when all of a sudden a second plane flew into the second tower.  To say that we were “stunned” is a terrible understatement – just one of many emotions that started coming up.  Like most Americans we learned more throughout the day (and little to no actual work was accomplished in the office), and it became clear that our nation had been under attack, and we were at war.

What does any of this have to do with our text this morning?  Everything.  The words that Jesus spoke during this section of the Sermon on the Plain are simple.  In regards to doctrinal theology, it is relatively easy to grasp.  The challenge comes with application.  These words, as simple as they are, become some of the most convicting words in the New Testament for the Christian in that they force us to come to grips with putting our Christian ethic into practice.  If we say we love God & love our neighbor, then that means we better find actual physical ways of doing so.  There’s got to be some way to see Christian love at work.  That’s the core of what Jesus teaches here.  The knowledge is easy, but the practical truth is difficult.  To be merciful as God is merciful, it means we need to be merciful to those who hate us.

If nothing else, 9/11 made it clear that we have enemies, and those enemies hate us, revile us, and desire to see us dead.  How do we respond to that as Christians?  That’s what Jesus teaches.  Before we get too far, we need to keep one crucial difference in mind: here, Jesus is speaking to individuals; not governments.  Government has one primary responsibility – one that is important above all others: the protection of its citizens.  Our current political debate gets this mistaken, often thinking that government has the responsibility to provide for its citizens, but it doesn’t.  It exists to protect us; not to provide for us.  This is Biblical, and Paul writes to the Romans (of all people!) that the civic government is there to “bear the sword,” being “God’s minister” of wrath upon those who “practice evil.” (Rom 13:4)  They have a Biblical responsibility to protect us, rise up in our defense, maintain justice, etc.  Thus the right & Biblical response for our government was to avenge the nearly 3000 people who were killed on 9/11, and ensure that no additional attack occurred.  That’s why we can (and do) Biblically honor those who serve in our military, our police forces, fire departments, and other first-responders.  (Thank you for your service!)

That said, how do we respond as individuals?  If we were to walk up on the street and stand face-to-face with someone from Al-Qaeda, or ISIS, what would Jesus have us to do?  That’s where the rubber meets the road in our Christian faith, and that’s when things become rather difficult.  Christian ethics aren’t complex, but they certainly aren’t easy.  Yet because Jesus taught them, it’s something we need to grapple with.

Of course the incredible thing is that Jesus didn’t just teach this; He exampled it.  There is not a single exhortation here that He did not personally apply.  Our Teacher is not an academic speaking from some ivory tower – our King is not some hypocrite forcing us to do something He would never do Himself.  On the contrary – Jesus is the ultimate example in all of this.  There is no one more Christian in his/her ethics than Christ.  He has given us the standard, but He has also shown us how to keep it.

How do we follow through on the ethical teaching here?  It may be as simple as the old slogan: what would Jesus do?  Go and do likewise.

Luke 6:27–36

  • The standard of the kingdom: mercy

27 “But I say to you who hear: …

  • We can’t get too far without stopping because this is a great place to remind ourselves of the context.  Jesus is introducing the next section of His message, transitioning out of the blessings & woes of the Beatitudes.  Specifically, He just spoke a woe in regards to persecution.  When men speak well of you, watch out, because it might be an indication you don’t belong to God.  The cultural Jews of the past spoke well of the false prophets, just like many cultural Christians speak well of false teachers today.  They don’t care about the truth of God; they just want their ears tickled with messages that makes them feel good.  But of course the opposite of that is the blessing to those who are hated, abused, & cast out for the sake of Jesus.  True Christians who hold to the truth about Jesus are often persecuted, and we can consider ourselves blessed during those times.  What do we do with those times?  That’s what Jesus is about to teach.
  • What’s so important about this brief introduction?  Jesus identifies His audience.  He isn’t speaking to the people of the world – He isn’t even really speaking to the majority of the multitude who are present.  Most of them had come to hear Jesus & witness miracles, but they didn’t necessarily have faith.  Jesus spoke to His disciples (6:20) – He spoke to all of those who followed Him, wanting to walk in His same footsteps.  And as Jesus says in vs. 27, He spoke to those who actually heard Him.  Similar language is given by Jesus to the apostle John in each of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation: “He who has an ear, let him hear.”  Many people were present to physically hear the words of Jesus, but only a certain few followed Jesus in faith and desired to hear His heart.  There were some who truly came to hear & to do what they heard – and it was to those whom Jesus now spoke.
    • A similar thing could be said of church congregations today.  Church sanctuaries are full of people on Sunday morning, but not everyone who is present has truly come to hear from the Lord.  Some are there for an emotional “high” – some are there to “get their blessing” (whatever it may be) – some are there because they were forced to come – some are there just because that’s what they do every Sunday.  How many are there to actually hear from the Lord God – to worship Him in spirit & truth – to truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus?  Hopefully it is the majority, though only the Lord knows for sure.  That is, the Lord & you.  You cannot speak for the motivation for anyone else, but you can speak for your own.  Why did you attend church this morning?  (Or any morning, for that matter?)  Do you have ears to hear what Jesus is saying?
    • If so, then listen up!  Every time the word of God is proclaimed, it requires careful attention be paid – but when Jesus specifically calls out to us as He does here, then it’s worth double the amount.  As you listen & as you read, be sure to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your own heart of what He is saying about all of this to you as an individual.  How does He want you to respond?  What does He want you to do?  Pay attention & listen up!

…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.

  • Jesus begins with four exhortations – short pithy teachings that seem upside-down in regards to what people might normally expect.  The same sort of thing was seen in the Beatitudes, with the paradox of the Kingdom making all of our cultural expectations topsy-turvy.  Just like we don’t normally consider ourselves happily blessed & fortunate when we are poor, hungry, weeping, and persecuted, we don’t normally think about acting in the way that Jesus instructs us here.
  • Exhortation #1: “love your enemies.”  We’re well familiar with the Biblical command to love your neighbor.  What we’re not always familiar with is how the Bible defines our “neighbor.”  Jesus actually does this very thing in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:30-37), in which the kindest person around is part of one of the groups most hated by the Jews.  At one point, the apostles James & John ask Jesus for permission to call fire down on Samaria (Lk 9:54 – which makes Jesus’ telling of the parable pretty good timing!), which illustrates how much the Jews hated the Samaritans.  These were true enemies, yet Jesus defined them as neighbors & showing of the pagan Samaritans acting more like a citizen of the kingdom of God than several religious Jews.  To the point, Jesus said we are to love these people.  Not just grit our teeth as we live side-by-side, but to love them – to sacrificially put our own needs aside and love them as Christ loves us.  Sound impossible?  The same disciple who wanted to exterminate a Samaritan village has through the centuries become known as the “Apostle of Love.”  The more we experience the love of Christ, the more we cannot help but be transformed by Him ourselves – and that will naturally spill over to the way we treat our enemies.
  • Exhortation #2: “do good to those who hate you.”  The lines tend to blur a bit between these four teachings, in that those who hate us are likely our enemies, who also have probably cursed us at some point.  Doing good is going to look like love & could easily be identified as a blessing, etc.  Jesus may have been saying something similar in different ways just to make the point clear.  At the same time, this puts a bit of flesh on the bones (so to speak).  An act of love doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with an act of our emotions – many (most!) times it has to do with a physical act.  What are the physical ways we can actually do good to someone else?  Thinking again on 9/11, we are well aware that there are Islamists in other lands who truly hate us and wish to see us dead.  What is one of the very best things we can do for them in “doing good” to them?  Take them the gospel.  When you support missionaries among radical Muslims in the Middle East, you are taking part in this very command.  Or perhaps there is something closer to home – perhaps someone who hates you has gone through a terrible tragedy or crisis of some sort.  There may be a chance to serve them by giving them food, helping fix up their home, etc.  There are all kinds of ways to put this kingdom ethic into practice.
  • Exhortation #3: “bless those who curse you.”  If the first two were mainly practical, this seems to be mainly verbal.  Not that our idea of blessing always has to do with speaking a blessing over someone (i.e. the Beatitudes), but the immediate context shows it in that light.  The word here for “bless” is different than the word used in vss. 20-22 & actually refers to “good speech.”  If someone speaks curses over us, we are to speak blessings over them.  When someone insults us, we do not respond in kind.  Instead, we respond with blessing.  For those on Facebook, how many times have you gotten into a war of words?  In our modern culture of social media, it is easy to find ourselves in situations in which we are cursed (especially in a political election year!).  The way we respond speaks volumes of our identity as Christians.  We could try to let the words pass away (which is fine), what is so much better is when we find ways to speak good things back to the people who spew venom back at us.
  • Exhortation #4: “pray for those who spitefully use you.”  What is it to be “spitefully used”?  NASB translates this as “mistreat” & ESV says “abuse” & all of that is included in this idea.  For those who threaten us, try to intimidate us, try to manipulate us, insult us, revile us etc., we intercede to God on their behalf.  We pray for them.  Keep in mind Jesus isn’t talking about the imprecatory prayers of David (“break their teeth in their mouth, O God!” – Ps 58:6).  There is a time & place for that as we vent our honest emotions to God, but that’s not likely the general idea here.  Here, Jesus seems to refer to compassionate, honest intercession on behalf of our enemies.  Want an example?  How about when Jesus was hanging from the cross, enduring the abuse and scorn of people who passed Him by, and He responds by praying to God asking for their forgiveness? (Lk 23:34)  It can be difficult to pray for our enemies, but it is a necessary thing to do.  Not for them, but for us.  One of the best ways to guard our own hearts against hatred is to sincerely pray for our enemies.  A heart that remains humble doesn’t harden with hate.  Prayer keeps us humble, because prayer reminds us that we are just as much in need of the grace of God as the person to whom we need to extend grace.
  • What do each of these exhortations have in common?  They are all proactive.  The individual words Jesus uses for love, do good, bless, and pray are all imperative verbs.  Each of them are actions that we are to initiate.  IOW, it isn’t a matter of waiting around to be offended or abused and then seeking for some way to respond in the heat of the moment (not that that is a bad thing; it’s not!).  The context here is looking for some way of taking the first step.  When we have enemies & others that we know that constantly hate us, what is a way that we can reach out to them with good works & blessing?  Take the initiative – take the first step.
    • That can take a bit of effort on our part.  This might mean searching out our enemies, or at the very least, spending serious time in prayer over those whom we might normally hate.  We’ve got to think about the people we normally do our best to avoid thinking about.  That takes work, but it’s worth it.  After all, how powerful of a witness is it to the transforming grace of Christ when a victim approaches his/her enemy in proactive love?  Combined with evangelism, that is the gospel in both word & deed.
    • Keep in mind that effort isn’t legalism.  None of what Jesus says here is any instruction for someone attempting to earn his/her way into heaven.  Remember that Jesus isn’t speaking to that person; He’s speaking to His disciples – to those who had ears to hear Him.  This is for the person who is already part of the kingdom of God – who already have faith in Jesus.  This isn’t how we become Christian; this is how we walk now that we are Christian.  So yes, now we take the effort in walking like Christ.  We just need to remember that we don’t do so alone.  We have the Holy Spirit available to us, and we can (and should) always ask Him to empower us for whatever lies before us.

29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.

  • In vss. 27-28, Jesus gave the exhortation/instruction.  Now He tells us what it looks like with four examples.  These examples are extreme, but they certainly get the point across!
  • Example #1: injury.  When someone slaps you, don’t retaliate in kind.  Scholarly opinion varies here whether this was an open-palmed slap, a back-handed strike, a square punch to the jaw, or just a metaphor about an insult, but all of the debate tends to miss the forest for the trees.  The idea is clear & simple: don’t fight back.  If someone hits you, don’t respond with an MMA takedown.  Go even to the point of offering your other cheek to your opponent.  Let God be your avenger & leave it in His more-than-capable hands.
    • Question: “What does this say about self-defense?”  Good Christians have solid disagreements here.  Some Christians take a powerful stand on pacifism, basing their position on solid Biblical arguments.  Others do the same in regards to self-defense.  Both positions can still follow this command from Jesus.  Obviously the pacifist will always turn his cheek, but so can the one who believes in self-defense.  There doesn’t always need to be an immediate overwhelming response to every situation.  The best defense isn’t done in a fit of anger or with an out-of-control temper.  Turning the other cheek gives a way to maintain control of yourself & ensure your response is measured & appropriate.
    • Keep in mind that Jesus does not justify physical abuse.  He never once commands someone to get hit over & over & over again (after all, we only have two cheeks to offer!).  Nor does He forbid any form of protective measures.  Parents are charged with protecting their children, for example.  Should an attacker break into your home, appropriate response is needed to protect someone from harm.  The key is that whatever you do needs to be done in a way that honors the Lord.  When it comes to a mere personal insult, then that’s something that should be able to be handled without retaliation.
  • Example #2: theft.  For this example, we need to put our mindset into that of a 1st century Jew or Gentile in this geographic area.  The typical dress was some form of loincloth/undergarment, a long shirt or tunic over that, and then a cloak that was worn over the tunic.  In this case, Jesus basically describes a street robbery or mugging.  Someone runs past you on the street (or even corners you), and rips your cloak from your shoulders.  Instead of running him down demanding the return of your cloak, you catch up to him & offer your tunic as well.  Again, it’s another extreme example, but it makes a powerful point.  A Christian doesn’t need to take vengeance on someone who has stolen from him/her; we can find ways of showing compassion to even those who have wronged us.  It doesn’t mean we need to sleep with unlocked doors inviting theft, but we do keep a compassionate heart, knowing that God is our ultimate provider & we can trust Him to compensate us for anything we might give up for His sake.

30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.

  • Example #3: begging.  This can be tough in our day & age, especially when so many news stories exist about professional panhandlers who take in hundreds of dollars every day just by standing on the street corners.  Neither do we want to enable someone’s addiction, and there is always a fear that whatever money is given will be used for drugs or alcohol.  Yet there were beggars in Jesus’ day, just like there are in ours.  Jesus said to give, and so we give, trusting that whatever we give is ultimately a gift unto the Lord.  Proverbs 19:17, "He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given."  When we see someone in need, we need to remember that only the Lord ultimately knows why they are in need.  It isn’t up to us to judge them; we just need to follow the Lord as He leads us in regards to giving.
    • Please note that Jesus never once specifies what to give the person.  Obviously you cannot give money you do not have, and sometimes the situation dictates that you cannot give the person exactly what they’re asking for.  But you still can give something.  Maybe that’s some food, or some bus tokens, or a bottle of water, etc.  In the case of Peter & John with the disabled man at the temple, they had no silver or gold, but they could give him the healing of Jesus (Acts 3:6).  We can always find some way to share & demonstrate the gospel.
  • Example #4: confiscation.  The actual situation described here is somewhat unclear.  Is this another theft?  Is this the Roman government seizing property?  Or perhaps is this something that has been lent out, yet never returned?  (The last scenario seems likely due to Jesus bringing this up in later context.)  Whatever the case, the principle is evident: don’t harass the person to give it back.  What’s gone is gone.  If some stuff can be given as a sacrifice unto the Lord & the mercy of Christ can be demonstrated in the process, then the loss is worth it.

31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

  • Want to sum it up?  It all goes back to the Golden Rule.  Treat others how you want to be treated.  How much grace do you want to receive?  After all, it isn’t as if we’re perfect…far from it!  We have offended others – we have acted wretchedly ourselves.  Have we desired mercy in those times?  That’s the same mercy we ought to extend to others.
  • This is where Jesus comes and turns conventional wisdom on its head.  The idea of doing no harm towards others wasn’t all that unusual.  Other moral teachers had said something similar in the past.  Among Jewish teachers, Rabbi Hillel had taught that people should not do unto others whatever it was they didn’t want done to them.  But Jesus took the negative command & made it positive.  Don’t just try to avoid the bad being returned to you; go and do the good.  Extend the mercy you want to receive.  Show the grace you want to be shown.  Go and set the example of the kingdom of God.
  • Keep in mind that as kingdom citizens (as Christians), we have already received grace & mercy.  That’s how we became Christians in the first place!  We have already experienced what it is like to be freely forgiven, to be blessed, loved, etc., and we experienced all of those things when we least deserved it.  That’s what we received from God, so that is what we can now give to the world.  (Which is something that comes out later in vss. 35-36.)
  • The standard of the world: retribution

32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit 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 credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.

  • Retribution can either be for good or bad.  We normally tend to think of it in terms of punishment (an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, etc.), but it can also be in terms of reward as Jesus here points out.  Someone acts loving towards us, so we act loving towards them.  Someone does us a favor, so we respond with a gift of our own.  Someone gives us a guarantee for a loan, so we don’t hesitate to give them what they ask.  All of this is well & good, and we can engage in any of this with a smile on our face & a clear conscience.  However, it’s not exactly unusual.  There is nothing about any of that which could be identified as “Christian” behavior.  How so?  Because it’s no different from worldly behavior.  Doing good to someone who has done something good for you doesn’t make you a godly person; it just means you’ve got basic manners.
  • All of this is the minimum – it is the very least that can be done.  The world seeks the minimum.  As Jesus notes, this is something that even “sinners” do.  Sometimes the argument is presented that only Christians can be truly moral & good citizens in a society, and that simply isn’t the case.  I’ve met some atheists who act more ethically than many professed Christians.  They still give to humanitarian causes, volunteer at hospitals, etc.  They may not attribute their ultimate motivation rightly (unwilling to acknowledge the imprint of God upon their own conscience), but they still act out towards the common (even altruistic) good.  That said, it’s still the minimum.  The world loves those who love them, and finds “good” and “worthy” people to whom to show kindness.  It doesn’t reach out to the rotten & seek to bless them. 
  • And it’s not just the secular world that does this.  Religion seeks the minimum.  Someone who is consumed with the law & various ways of earning his/her own way into heaven isn’t looking for the most he/she can do; that person is looking for the least.  They just want to cross that threshold & know that they’ve done it, so they can check it off the list.  Did they visit the sick & imprisoned?  Check.  Did they give food to widows & orphans?  Check.  Did they attend church according to expectations & give the “right” amount of money every week?  Check.  What (if any) of that sounds like the gospel of grace?  Those might be good things, but there’s nothing truly good in that kind of motivation because it leaves Christ completely out of the picture.  All of that is just someone trying to do the bare minimum to slide through the Pearly Gates with their seats still smoking.  That isn’t God’s desire for us, and it’s not what Jesus teaches.
  • Kingdom ethics (Christian ethics) doesn’t seek for the minimum; it seeks for grace.  That’s why Jesus can contrast all of what He said in vss. 32-34 for what He goes on to say in vs. 35…

35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, …

  • All of those minimum standard examples find their maximum answer in grace.  Interestingly, the word Jesus used for “credit” in vss. 32-34 is χάρις (~charismatic) – a word frequently translated elsewhere as “grace.”  None of the minimum standard of the world gives any grace to the Christian.  It certainly doesn’t demonstrate any grace on the part of the Christian!  But even when that grace is seen as the gracious favor & gift of God, there is none of that bestowed upon anyone who just does the bare minimum.  The “reward” comes to those who go up & above the minimum.  Loving our enemies is to go up & above – lending without hope of return is to go up & above.  That is to go beyond the minimum & reach for the standard of grace.
  • What is the reward?  Sonship…

…and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

  • Those who act according to the ethics of the kingdom show themselves to be sons & daughters of the King.  Our ultimate reward is our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  It needs to be emphasized that this isn’t earned; it’s demonstrated.  Grace (by definition) is not earned – otherwise it would be a wage & not grace.  It is because we have received grace that we are able to show grace.  And as wonderful as it is to receive grace, it is even better to share it with someone else.  That’s our reward.  As we extend the same mercy that we have received, we show that we have indeed received it in the first place.  We even get to participate in the same thing for others as God did for us.  That’s is true reward!
  • Theology break!  Who is God?  He is the “Most High.”  This a common OT term for God, referring to His glory & exaltation.  It isn’t that God is highest among all other gods (because there aren’t any other gods) – it’s that He is higher than everything.  God is infinitely more glorious than anything else in creation, for He is the One who created it.  And through Christ, we have been made His children.  Amazing!
  • How does God act?  According to His merciful lovingkindness: “for He is kind.”  He is truly good, compassionate, merciful, and benevolent.  God doesn’t love according to minimum standards; He goes infinitely beyond the minimum.  God goes so far as to love His enemies: “the unthankful and evil.”  Who are they?  They are us.  WE were the unthankful & evil ones!  Every day when we awoke in our unbelief & sin, we thought only of ourselves & not our Creator.  We gave Him no thanks for the day, nor the blood flowing through our veins which He alone gave.  We actively sinned against Him, desiring our own will to be done & not His.  And yet He was kind towards us.  He still allowed us to wake again & again, enduring day-in and day-out of our evil, until the point that we finally came to faith in Christ.  And of course some people never come to faith, and yet God still shows them kindness.  He still allows His rain to fall upon the just & the wicked.  God is truly kind in infinite ways.
    • But the very best way is through Christ.  The mercy and love of God is shown abundantly through Jesus!  Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  We did not deserve the love of God – to the contrary, we deserved His judgment & wrath!  But God showed us mercy & grace.  God gave us Jesus, and thus the gift of His salvation.  That is love in action.  That is Christian love, by definition.
  • The bottom line here?  If we act like Jesus, we show ourselves to be sons of God like Jesus.  Jesus is THE Son of God, but we are also invited to be sons & daughters of God, even to the point that we share in the eternal inheritance of Christ.  Chew on that for a moment…THAT is grace!  That is what we have received through Jesus, undeserving as we are.  If we’ve received that kind of grace, then surely we ought to be able to extend it to others.
  • The standard bearer: God

36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

  • Jesus does not command us to something He Himself does not do.  And not only is Jesus infinitely merciful, so is His (and our) Father.  The mercy of our God is limitless, and therefore so ought to be ours.  We tend to give ourselves excuses out of mercy.  “It’s too hard…  She was too hurtful…  But it was wrong what happened…”  All of that may be true, but is it any less true what we did unto the Lord?  Yet He showed mercy with us.  We spit in His face countless times (metaphorically speaking), and yet He still gave us Jesus & the opportunity to be made His children.  With us, God’s mercy was without limits & without excuses.  That is how we are to act with others.
  • Interestingly, there is a summary command in the Old Testament (particularly in the book of Leviticus) that was given to the Hebrews: to be holy as the Lord God is holy. (Lev 19:2)  That isn’t unique to God’s people of the old covenant, but it is also given to the church (1 Pt 1:16).  We are still to be holy (completely set apart, dedicated unto God), because our Lord God is supremely holy.  His people ought to act like Him.  That being said, it’s interesting that Jesus uses very similar phrasing here in regards to mercy.  Remember that the whole of the OT law is summed up in two commandments: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength – and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  If the first command is perhaps summed up by holiness, the second is summed up by mercy.

Conclusion:
The ethic of the kingdom?  Mercy!  That is what God the Father has shown us, and that is what we are to show others.  Is it the standard of the world?  No, and thank goodness!  The world gives out retribution, both good & evil.  But even when worldly response is good, it’s still just the bare minimum.  God goes beyond the minimum to mercy – God goes all the way to grace.

And again, this is what Jesus has done for us.  He doesn’t command a single thing here that He Himself did not demonstrate.  Jesus loved His enemies when He died for them upon the cross.  Jesus did good for those who hated Him when He suffered on their behalf.  Jesus spoke well of those who spoke curses to His face when He gave them the gospel, and He literally prayed for those who abused Him when He asked God for their forgiveness as He hung from the nails on the cross.  He was freely compassionate to those who were ungrateful, to the point of even granting physical healings to people who never even said “thank you.”  Jesus is the epitome of someone demonstrating the mercy of God, and He set the example for the rest of us.

How much mercy has God showered upon you?  Go and do likewise.  Identify your enemy, and sacrifice yourself for him/her, loving that person with the same love you received from Christ.  Find ways of being proactive with them, keeping your heart humble, seeking ways to demonstrate the gospel through both word and deed.

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