Luke 6:32 | Luke 6:27 | 1 John 4:16 | Ephesians 5:1-2
It’s what makes love love.
Don’t you love people who laugh at your jokes? And folks who give you their full attention when you speak? And persons who agree with your political views?
What about people who make fun of you? And folks who trick you out of your money or stuff? And persons who promote causes you despise?
It sounds crazy, but Jesus tells us that loving people like those above is what makes love love.
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!”Luke 6:32 NLT
Anyone can love people who love them. Loving everyone else is next-level. That’s what Jesus did, and what he calls us to.
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”Luke 6:27 NLT
If your mind isn’t a little blown after reading Luke 6:27, you’re probably not thinking about it hard enough. Because–wow–Jesus says to do good to those who hate you. Why not just leave them alone?
He goes on even to suggest lending to folks who you know can’t pay you back. What?!
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.”Luke 6:35 NLT
Oh wait…that’s how God is. He is kind to people whether they appreciate it or not, even to people who are flat out wicked. Dang!
When we act like that–showing kindness to people who don’t deserve it–we are truly being God’s children. Because if we’re honest… We ourselves are not always so loveable, are we? But we know how much God loves us, and we trust him to work the rest out.
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.1 John 4:16 NLT
This is what breaks the cycle of hurt in our world, in which “I hurt you because you hurt me.” This is one way the Kingdom of Heaven comes to earth. This is the meaning of love.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT
Questions for Group Discussion
- Do you think learning to love hard-to-love people is part of spiritual maturity? Consider the fact that God, our father, does this all the time.
- Who do you know that loves people well? Can you give an example of how they are kind to people who oppose them or don’t appreciate it?
- Can you grow in love without the help of the Holy Spirit? Is this what the last part of 1 John 4:16 means to say?
Challenge: Love Someone
Here it is: the challenge you have all been waiting for…and possibly hoping to avoid.
Seriously, you are not going to like this challenge. But if you do it, you will grow. Here it is: Love someone who is hard to love.
- Pick your target. This should be someone who does not love you. Maybe they hate you, maybe they don’t know or care who you are. Doesn’t matter.
- Ask God to show you what it means to love them, and inspire you to do so.
- Pray for them each day. If you need to, set an alarm (or alarms) to remind you to do so.
- Find a safe way to show them kindness. A SAFE WAY. We are not recommending anything that may open you up to physical hostilities. (If that is a possibility, your best option is to pray for them.) If they are someone you regularly interact with, it may be a change in how you respond to them.