by Pastor Jack Arrington
Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. (NET)
I recently read the verse above in my personal devotions. Several parts stopped me in my tracks and called for my attention.
First, Jesus’ words probed my motives for doing good and for loving. If I am to love my enemies, then my motive for loving can’t be that the people I love are my friends. Nor can it be that I expect something tangible, here and now, in return if I do good, lend, and expect nothing from those people in return. Nor can my motive be the expected gratitude and appreciation that I might receive from them. Not, if by definition, the people to whom I am to be kind are ungrateful and evil people.
So why should I love, do good, give generously and be kind? Because in so doing, I would become a son or a daughter (masculine gender used inclusively) of God Most High.
Wait. I thought we became children of God by receiving Jesus through faith as our Savior?
We do. Galatians 3:26 says, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Jesus is not teaching that we earn the right to become children of God by doing good deeds. So what’s going on here? Look at the following verse: (Mark 3:17) “James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder).”
Jesus is using a figure of speech. To be a son of means to reflect similar qualities and characteristics. James and John had thunderous personalities.
Have you ever heard a mother say, “Well, he’s his father’s son.” The idea is the same thing. It means to be like our Father. When we show love to our enemies, give to those who will not or cannot give back, and are kind to the ungrateful and evil, then we are acting like our Father who is God Most High.
So why do it? It’s a motivation every child knows who has a loving father. I want to be like my dad. Yes, I want to be like my Father.
Then there’s an added bonus: our Father will reward us. Longing and striving for heavenly reward is a good biblical motivation (see 1 Cor 3).
But there’s something disturbing about this verse. Are there times you are ungrateful? Sometimes I’m ungrateful. What’s uncomfortable, disturbing really, is how ungrateful and evil are linked together. I think Jesus is saying that to be ungrateful is to be evil. Lack of thankfulness is evil? Wow.
More than that it seems to me that the connection as the verse turns back on itself is that I show my gratitude to God by loving my enemies because when I was his enemy he loved me. He does good to me and I cannot pay him back. He continues to be kind to me when I am ungrateful and evil.
That messes with my mind. It is deeply disturbing and deeply comforting at the same time. And you know what? It makes me all the more want to be like my dad. I want to be a son of my Father in heaven. Don’t you?