“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same?
The first word I want us to explore in this text is the word Love.
We know that many times people say that famous quote from Tina Turner’s ” What’s love got to do with it” movie..
We live in such a cold society, it’s easy to just write people off.
But if we are to live as Christ wants us to live in this unconventional way that brings about what I call the blessed life we must take time to understand the way He teaches us to live.
The word love is a popular word in our culture and time. Everyone uses the word love for everything, we say we have love for people we don’t speak to, people we abuse and people we slander in our hearts and even to others, I’m sorry but this way of living is not the way Jesus prescribed through this text.
Love as it is used in this text is Agape.
Agape is an unconditional love.
In the Greek Language which the New Testament was written the word Love could have any of 4 meanings.
- Eros- this is a passionate or sexual kind of love shared between a husband and wife.
- Phileo- this is a brotherly kind of love shared between same sex or opposite sex as friendship.
- Storge- this is a family love, for instance from mother toward child or siblings etc.
- Agape- This love is the most powerful and the one Jesus asked us to love others with. It is a love that expects nothing in return.
It is to be full of goodwill and exhibit it.
Jesus says if we “agape” (Love unconditionally with our actions) those who love us only. What reward to we have?
That’s the question on the floor today if we are going to live as Christ called us to live as Followers of a living Savior.
I want to talk about that word reward very quickly just a moment if you don’t mind.
Firstly, Jesus says in this text if we show kindness only to those who show kindness to us, this is to say that there will be those who don’t act kindly toward us and are considered “testy” people, we are even to love them.
I will give a quick example of what this looks like them move forward.
The year I separated from my husband, I moved out to a place called Denton Tx. I lived there in some apartments I could afford coming from being a stay at home mom for 6 years. When I noticed I had an “inconvenient” neighbor I cried to the Lord many days about it. It was a lady named Tiffany, she lived there with her boyfriend and 5 children. Every night there was a loud noise on my wall..as I was asleep, and during the day also. I would often times be awakened from my sleep, flirting with the thought of either banging on the wall or knocking on their door having a fit.. I would change the rooms in my house and sleep on the sofa or in another room in the house just to get a good nights rest, I would even play white noise all night on my phone loudly just to drown out the music. The day came she was over on my side of the apartments talking to another neighbor Jackie, and when I saw her I could feel the anger rising even in my throat.. I couldn’t say a word. I spoke kindly, thinking to myself.. “Why do I need to speak to this lady, she’s so mean to me. I don’t have to love her as myself, she needs to love me as herself. That’s so unkind, I pay to live in a place I can’t even sleep in my own bed, how is that fairness” Nevertheless the moment I introduced myself and shook her hand with a smile.. I felt a tinge of anger and bitterness leave me. I’m not saying I wasn’t upset many other nights I even got to the point I left a note on her door asking her to please be considerate of me. She was very unhappy, but the point of the matter is Jesus in this text wasn’t calling me to react to her in the same way she acted toward me even though it was very inconvenient to me.. I still had to love her with an unconditional love not predicated on her behavior. Get the point.
Now I close with this word reward!
A reward is a due paid, a wage for a person hired. Now there can be both positive and negative rewards, but they are rewards nevertheless. Jesus is asking what reward do you think you will get if you only love those who love you, will it be a positive or a negative reward.
Let’s deal briefly with this word wage… I work a job, Monday-Friday 7:30-4:30p. Every 1st and 15th I look forward to something that is due me.. It’s not a gift, It’s not something my boss is giving me because of the kindness of her heart. She hired me, and it is her duty to keep her end of the bargain to pay me, unless I no longer report for duty.. Here’s my point, God has hired us to be His agents in the earth. Do you not know that by your kindness to others in the midst of their bad treatment toward you the bible says you reap coals of fire over their head. Your kindness melts their hearts and can ultimately change them for the better toward God.
In this life as a follower of Christ we are called to live … Unconventionally, it will go against the grain. It will not make sense all the time when they person cuts you off to just keep driving and say..>”Go right ahead, your more important than me, where I need to get is obviously not as important as where you do, so I will think of you more highly than myself” I mean this can even start in the home with a spouse, or a child. Sometimes the people closest to us can do the things that hurt us greatest, in this particular teaching of our Savior Jesus who left us the perfect example he challenges us to see things the way He does. So that, on that day when we see Him there’s a reward, due wages we receive for representing Him well, and possibly winning others to Him, by choosing to guard our hearts against offense.
This principle isn’t easy at first.. But the more you think of others more highly than yourself the more easier it will be.
Please see my “Unconventional living” blog for further reference on this text!