Thursday, February 19, 2009

Luke 6:27-36 - The Call to Show Divine Mercy

In relation to one's enemies, Jesus gave the following commands:
  1. Love them;
  2. Do good to them;
  3. Bless them;
  4. Pray for them;
  5. Willingly suffer a greater disadvantage for their benefit if put to the task.

He explained that disciples should exceed sinners in their manner of loving. He gave two incentives and one reason for so doing: first, our reward would be great; second, we would be sons of the Most High; and third and most importantly, for our Father is kind and merciful to the ungrateful and evil and we are to emulate him. The words are "Be merciful even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:34). These words rings with familiarity with the following:

  • Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48);
  • Be holy, for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16).

The context of the Matthean text is similar to this passage of Luke - to exceed sinners in their manner of loving. The Petrine text urges its readers to set themselves apart from their former sinfulness.

It will hurt everything in me to love enemies, especially those who hate me. I will experience vulnerability to hurt. Yet, there are things that I can do first to mitigate those fears. I can purpose to bless and to pray. I hope that in a meeting, I will not be thought hypocritical. I guess I should quit worrying about what people will think of me and just trust God enough to do exactly what he says and leave to him to deal with all my insecurities.

Christ has called us to be merciful. This actually puts us in a position of strength that we can absorb and accommodate those in a position of weakness. So my enemies are in fact weak and I am commanded to pity them. Give me grace, Lord, to dare to take you at your word here.

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