By Rev. Tina Schramme, Congregational Care Pastor
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 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. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 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. 35 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. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
A Tree and Its Fruit
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
William Barclay once said, “One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. It is easy to laugh at man’s ideals. It is easy to pour cold water on the enthusiasm. It is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”
While I like to encourage others, I can spend more of my time thinking of my needs rather than others. Take a minute and look around you. Look close at the faces of people and see in their eyes the desperate longing for understanding, attention and encouragement. We all need it, yet we seem not to notice the need in each other. We are too caught up with our own concerns. But, what if we approached each person we encounter as someone in need of a kind word, then tried to find a way to fulfill that need?
Just a kind word, a small phrase of encouragement, or care is all it takes. One of the most significant ways in which we can encourage others is to listen with our hearts to what they are saying. Often people say things not in words, but in their feelings, their actions and even their silence. While listening, ask God to give you understanding. Then respond with the intention to encourage them.
Jesus always affirmed and strengthened the weak, the lonely and the unwanted. What if you lived your life from that frame of reference? If ever you needed encouragement, I feel certain it would come back to you abundantly. Because people who are encouragers, first find their own source of strength in the encouraging, and then find they are surrounded by encouragement themselves. It’s how God’s economy works. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
God, you continually call me to live a sacrificial life, and yet I fall short. Help me to see others the way you see them. Help me to be a person who serves others with all that I am and all that I have. You gave so much for me, Lord. Thank you. Guide me to live a life that honors your gift. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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