“Forgive your enemies. It messes with their heads.” —Church sign
Our world says, “If people are ungrateful or unkind to you, blow ‘em off, let them have it back!” As Christians, we usually don’t say that (at least not at church on Sunday). On the other hand, I don’t often hear us yelling to our kids from the sidelines, “Flagrant foul! But love them in Jesus’ name!” The kingdom of Christ is totally different from what our world thinks.
The M in BEMA stands for mercy.
If “benevolence” is serving someone who can’t pay you back, “mercy” is loving someone who won’t love you back.
"But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 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. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“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 repayment, 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 6:27-36
Okay, this isn’t just counterintuitive, this is crazy! We look at this and we say, “Wow, Jesus! Why would You ask me to live like this?” Because following Christ leads us away from the logic of the world.
Acting like this requires a divine amount of grace-laced empowerment, so good luck if you are going to try it in your own strength. The very same Jesus who calls you to this type of life lives in you. This is the way He wants to live through you, and at the Bema Seat, Christ is going to bless you for allowing His mercy to flow through you in a way that brings good things to those who don’t deserve it.
Alright Jesus, You want to live this way through me? I don’t get it; I can’t do it—but I’m available. Bring to mind my “enemy” right now—show me someone specific. I surrender my will to You and ask that You would show me how You specifically and tangibly want to love them through me. Amen.
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