“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
This question directly targets personal relationships, and not only personal relationship with those we love, but in specific personal relationships with “Testy” people. You know the kind.. People you can’t hardly “stand” or you have a hard time being in their presence because of some character defect you find in them.
In this context we are actually looking at our ability to treat everyone the same, this means I will treat my enemy just like I treat the person on the street I met at Wal-mart just like I treat the person I live with and love at home, or the long distance relative I grew up with. This question comes after a statement of one of the great commandments Jesus left us.
Jesus speaks about relationships, not being stingy, but giving to those who ask, and going the extra mile even if you were forced to go the one! Let’s be realistic none of us can live those beatitudes perfectly all the time.. But Jesus breaks them down at this stage to 1 of the 2 great commands He left.. Love Your neighbor as yourself. You do know that has just as much weight as the first one don’t you? Throughout this whole chapter Jesus is redefining the law.. Calling for unconventional living amongst those that are part of His family.
Jesus is expounding on the second command in this text however I’m sure we can not rightly carry out the second one without first getting our hooks in the first one really good.
What does Jesus mean by this statement. What kind of love is He speaking of. Obviously love is the key word in the text. We can see that loving people is something we are called to do. But we are not to love like the world, or the sinner loves. The sinner, the one who has not accepted Christ into his heart says.. “You don’t love me, I don’t love you!” There is no mid way. and we will use sayings like “She/he is dead to me!” Or ” I don’t have no love for her/him” When we call ourselves believers this is totally contradictory to what we are called to do.
If we only love those who love us we are walking just like those who have never experienced Jesus are. The hole point is that meeting Jesus, and truly knowing Him and loving Him should change the way we interact with others here on the earth!
Here is the gist of it all, While we were yet sinners, the truth is we were enemies of God. We were interested in doing things only one way… our way. Yet in all His mercy and grace He was still loving on us. His love was so great 4 us that He communicated that love by sending His only Son, to take on all the sin that was separating us from Him so that we could come into relationship with Him and be called His very own children.
What a love? Talk about loving God’s way!
This question is a question of real love. We are not tested until we have to live as Jesus did..
I remember going through a phase where I would see people all over wearing necklaces and having it on their car, or written on their shirt.. The infamous “WWJD?” And we tried to make that the thing that was in.. But the truth of the matter is most the people who wore those things were doing the exact opposite. Here Jesus was teaching us a way of thinking for a lifestyle, not just a logo to wear on our shirt or stick on our car.
The love He speaks of here is completely different from the love we have understood.. In our culture today when we say we love someone, it really means, until you get on my nerves and I can’t stand you I love you. Until you make me angry. Until you start gaining weight or don’t do what I think you ought to do when you ought to do it. We see it everyday, look at the divorce rate. We say love as just another 4 letter word. But when Jesus said it He meant something far deeper than what we experience.
In the Greek language there are 4 definition for the word Love.
- #Eros – physical or passionate love with sensual desire or longing. (Sexual)
- Philia- mental love- affectionate regard or (friendship)
- Storge- Natural affection- the affection felt from parent to child. (Family)
- Agape- Love in a spiritual sense. true (unconditional) love, selfless, it gives and expects nothing in return.
In this text we are admonished to express Agape. It’s a conscious daily choice that you offer this love even if the person has no intent on offering it back.
Now we must deal with the next key word which is “reward” it’s a payment… it’s earned, fines paid for work.. then it would be ok to assume that when we love people that do unlovable things to us we simply prepare a reward for ourselves.. and he didn’t say in heaven or on earth either, it wasn’t specified so it may be safe to believe that we could have rewards both in heaven and on earth.
I will give a brief example of a situation in my own life when I was challenged with this.
During the time of my separation from my ex-husband, I had come from being a stay at home mom and was having to learn to fend for myself. I moved into these apartments in Denton Tx. near my new job. I did not know much about the neighborhood or the apartments, all I knew was it was a place for me and my children to live. Shortly after we moved in, I realized I had the most inconsiderate neighbors. We would hear noise over our heads all the time and not only that but outside the neighbors across the way slammed their door rather frequently, having several families living In one apartment they all went in and out quite often. But I could deal with all of that. It was the neighbor directly adjacent to the apartment I lived in. Throughout the night I would hear loud noises on the wall, and it became so frustrating it would wake me all times of the night. many times I would have to get up and go sleep on the couch in the living room. I could remember sleeping on the air mattress on the floor in the living room and even moving my rooms around so that I had the smallest room in the house, just to sleep through the night!
I will be honest, I had everything but a feeling of love in my heart for these people.. No, love was not one of the things that came to mind when I thought of these people. For it wasn’t just throughout the night they would make this sound…. all throughout the day there was nothing but noise coming from this apartment.
Finally, I came across this scripture with a good friend of mine, and I began to say: No, they are supposed to love me as themselves, not the other way around. Why can’t they just be considerate. One day the moment came where I saw them sitting out under my breezeway, the lady had many children and was pregnant again. I went up to her, and introduced myself and asked her name. At first it felt like the hardest thing to smile and walk up to this neighbor but I felt like I was being tested on this one commandment.
Now your neighbor may not be the person who lives faithfully near you. You may be on a business trip miles away from home and your neighbor may be that rude waitress in the restaurant, or the person that cuts you off in horrible traffic. Let’s face it, your neighbor can be the very person whom you are having a problem agreeing with. For God tells us to love everyone. As a believer this love is not unconventional. It’s what we do!
Many of us can say.. “I love God, he is my savior or my Lord, but ever forget the second command, it says to love every body the same way you love God. So your love for others becomes a direct reflection of your love for God.. ~selah