““But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
Luke 6:32-36 NKJV
Whether I knew it or not, whether I acknowledged it or not, I was wholly dependent on the mercy of God. I lived a life steeped in sin for years, never once considering that the God of the universe, Creator of all things, held my life in His hands. At any moment, I could have died, and went to hell. But God was merciful, as He allowed me to live.
His love was unilateral, as He did all the giving, I did all the taking, with no regard for what it had cost Him. I was a hopeless ingrate, hating all that He stood for.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 NKJV
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to be reflections of Him, who went to the cross to pay our sin debt. Because Jesus paid our price, we are His and must be representative of His love, of His grace, as we go into the world to share the message of the Gospel.
The mission we have is difficult, as the world hated Jesus, and so hates us. It’s is easy to find comfort in the “holy huddle”, to commune only with those who love us. But we were saved to take the love on the road, to give to those who mock and revile us. In doing so, we are showing the mercy of God.
Before I came to Jesus, I deserved hell, I had done all that I could to earn it. Every work of my hands, whether meant for good or evil was but filth when placed before the Lord.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23 NKJV
“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.”
Isaiah 64:6 NKJV
In our mission to those who hate us, who hate God, we are showing the very mercy of God. Even though reviled, Jesus loved, as He was relentless in reaching, teaching, and pleading on behalf of those who hated His name. Even as He went to the cross, He was pleading for their souls, as He did not want the Father to hold their sin to their account.
“Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.”
Luke 23:34 NKJV
Stephen, upon his stoning, inaugurated in blood, the church of Christ, as the ministry of reconciliation came full circle, as he too pleaded on behalf of those who killed him. His words pierced the heart of one standing by, Saul of Tarsus, later Paul, who would later write of his own suffering for the cause of Christ.
“Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”
II Timothy 2:8-13 NKJV
Jesus desires to save sinners from hell. We have been made His ambassadors to go forth and proclaim the Good News to a fallen world. In doing so, we show the kindness of God to the ungrateful and the evil, who can be made grateful and righteous through the blood of Jesus.
We have the power to do this through God, and not through ourselves. The Holy Ghost brings power from on high, that we minister here below, telling of this Jesus, the God/Man who left the glory He knew with the Father, to live a humble, sinless life, and die a brutal death, and be raised from the dead.
Brothers and sisters, go out today and show the love of Jesus. Even if it is unilateral, and nothing is returned, remain focused on Jesus, who loved you first, even when we were ungrateful and evil.
“We love Him because He first loved us.”
I John 4:19 NKJV