Which One Of Us Can Do This?
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you; to him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also, and from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. and from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back." Luke 6:27-30 If I told you that the Bible says to give, not lend, most would say "that's not in the Bible." But it is. "From him who takes away your goods, do not ask them back." I have to admit, I only "saw" this today, and I've been reading this Bible for a very long time. This passage begins with a huge qualifier: "I say to you WHO HEAR." And what that implies is that many people will pass over his words, but few will "hear" them. Among all believers who read the Bible through every year, that means they've read this countless times, but how many have truly "heard" what Jesus is saying here? When he tells us to do GOOD to those who HATE us, and that if someone steals something from us we must let him take whatever else he wants ....now let's be honest, which of us lives this way? Our natural human nature recoils when we realize someone hates us. And if someone steals something from us, how many would offer the thief even more? Why is that? Why is it that we think we love Jesus, but we do not do the things he has said to do? What's wrong with this picture? Here's what's wrong: no one is humanly capable of living that way. We live in a fallen human nature and that fallenness is powerful in us. It means that our first reaction to anything and everything is going to be self-centered. The first step out of this predicament is to acknowledge what Jesus has said, and admit that we can't do it. This is honesty, friends, and truth ALWAYS has to be what we approach God with. If we try to brush away some of these words and think we're good Christians, we're not being honest. It HURTS to admit the truth about ourselves. But we can't move forward until we do. Is there a remedy? Of course there is. Jesus wouldn't have told us to do something he knows very well we can't do, and just leave us stewing in guilt. No, he has given us his Holy Spirit who ALONE can change the heart. That which we cannot do, the Spirit of God within us CAN do. And will ...if we let him. If we listen. If we "hear." If we ASK to be made able to do what we can't do. Pray with me: Father God, it truly is painful to be honest about ourselves. Your words in the passage above show us just how unable we are to be "good Christians." We're not. It's that plain and simple. But I am willing to acknowledge the truth about myself, and I ask you to empower me with the power of your Holy Spirit to do that which in myself I cannot do. I invite you Lord to take up residence within me, make me your own, and show me gently the terrible truths about my fallen human nature, while leading me to victory through the power that only you can provide. Help me to truly believe that you, in me, can change everything. I offer my willingness, that's all I have to give. Please take me up on it and make those changes inside that you desire to ...as you grow me up into the image of your precious Son. And I will give to YOU ...all the glory. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.