Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Tough Love

Tough Love

A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” 
– Luke 6:32-36 (NIV)

One of my most favorite passages in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is this description of the Christian going to his local church: “When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided.”

As Christians, we need to rub shoulders with fellow believers in what is a safe place and let them challenge us to love like Jesus. It’s one of the strongest arguments for regular church attendance. The best churches have pews filled with the high and the low, the meek and the mighty, the community leader you want to befriend and the weird guy who hangs out at the gas station and that you try not to make eye contact with. Within our church family we’re supported, encouraged, and coached to love one another. What a better place to build your Christian muscles?

As the verse above makes clear, God loves the unlovable and He expects us to do the same. Jesus died for criminals, haters, adulterers, sinners. He died for us; we are the unlovable. Whatever we think of ourselves, we are no better than the worst of humanity. We’re all sinners. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). It’s tempting to think that you were always a ‘good person,’ living a ‘good’ life, that you’ve been able to avoid the curse of Original Sin. Nope! You’re not good now and you never were. However, there is hope when you become a follower of Jesus Christ.

If you’re a Christian (follower of Jesus Christ), then you’ve been redeemed and your sinful heart has been turned to Jesus and your wayward feet are on the path to glory. But don’t forget that you didn’t deserve it! You didn’t lift yourself out of the well of sin you were in. Maybe your sin didn’t feel that bad to you compared to others, but God doesn’t pick up a yardstick to measure out your sin and give you a break if it’s not ‘that bad.’ 

Because He is an infinitely Holy God, our smallest rebellion against Him deserves the most severe punishment. But it pleased Him to sacrifice His Son (Jesus Christ) so that He could display what True Love really is.

We need to love radically, like God does. Generic, worldly love isn’t enough.

And God doesn’t stop there. He wants us to love those who hate us, as well as those that we have ‘hitherto avoided.’ Loving our enemies isn’t just the absence of nastiness, it’s active love, and a big part of that is sharing the Gospel.

Don’t let your heart be turned from fellow sinners who need the same mercy and grace that has been shown to you. Remember your own story; the unbearable weight of your sins that you felt when you were confronted with them, and the panic of not knowing how to get rid of that weight. And remember what it was like when you were given the option of receiving that free gift that would take that weight away forever – repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Don’t leave someone in their sin; show them the path to God’s redeeming grace.

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 ACFW Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction.

A native New Englander, she was inspired by her travels through the north woods of Maine to write The Broken Trail, which would become the first in the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Christa's writing focuses on the real-life challenges of the modern world, love’s sometimes crooked path, and the redemptive power of Grace.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty.

She and her husband live with their three kids, two cats, and one dog along the coast of New England. Connect with Christa at

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