Friday, May 22, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts on caring for people a bit "too much"

Caring Too Much

A devotional by Amy Odland

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:27-28, 36 (NIV)

“You care too much.”

Have you ever had this said to you? Or maybe you’ve said it to someone? Is it even possible to, as a Christian, “care too much?”

In John 15:12-13 (NIV), Jesus says “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” When you think about him saying that to his twelve disciples, including Judas who would eventually betray him, you can get a better picture of what he meant in Luke 6 when he also said “love your enemies.”

According to, the Greek word of enemies is echthros, which means “someone openly hostile, animated by deep-seated hatred, implies irreconcilable hostility, proceeding out of a “personal” hatred bent on inflicting harm.”

Do you have an enemy right now, someone you have deep-seated, irreconcilable hostility towards? Maybe it’s against someone who treated you unfairly or did or said hurtful things to you or a loved one. Maybe you are someone else’s enemy because of something you’ve done or said to them.

As Christians, we’re supposed to be loving and forgiving, but we don’t always do a very good job of that. We hold grudges, have angry outbursts, daydream about revenge, and want to see justice prevail quickly. I don’t know of many people, myself included, who look for ways to “lay down their life” for their enemies. But if we only love those who love us, what sets us apart from those who aren’t Christians, those who do the same kinds of acts of kindness we do? (Luke 6:32-33) 

Some of my unbelieving friends are just as kind and generous as my believing friends; the thing that sets those of us in Christ apart from the rest of the world is how we treat those who mistreat us. We become a living, breathing example of the Gospel message when we care for our enemies, which to some people, may look like “caring too much.”

Loving our enemies is only possible because of the Holy Spirit, the Helper who Jesus Christ mentions in John 14 and John 15. We love because he first loved us, because while we were still enemies of God, He sent His son to die for us. (Romans 5:10) Danielle Bernock explained it this way in one of her posts:

“Jesus brought up the issue of mercy repeatedly. Everyone wants mercy. The Bible tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. Of course we want it. Giving mercy requires us to give up revenge and hand the judgment part to God. Loving our enemies doesn’t mean to allow them to continue to hurt us. That would be a failure of loving ourselves as God loves us. We can do what is in our control to protect ourselves while trusting God to step in. Loving our enemies means to see them as human beings in need of the Father’s love.”

Imagine loving your enemies in such a way you were able to say to a group of people who knew you best: “Love your enemy as I have; I’ve given you an example of how I loved mine.” Jesus Christ, in a sense, said this and then later died on the cross...even for Judas and the Pharisees. He cared about people to the point of death.

When we say to one of our brothers and sisters in Christ that they “care too much,” I wonder if we are actually meaning something else. I don’t think it’s possible, as a Christian, to “care too much” about people.

Let’s Pray: Lord, please help us care for others as you want us to. Help us love our enemies as you would love them. Give us wisdom to be able to discern when it’s time to turn the other cheek and when it’s time to “shake the dust from our sandals” and move on. Give us compassion for everyone created in your image. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

Amy Odland has been serving in church ministry as a volunteer leader for over 16 years, in various worship, prayer and women’s ministry roles.

Her passion for helping women stems from her own struggles and lessons learned in her journey as a Christian since first deciding to follow the Lord in 1994. 

Amy’s priorities after her faith include her family — husband Rick, and their four kids — as well as extended family who all live close in proximity and the many friends she’s made over the years.

In addition to a love of teaching and helping her husband with the bookkeeping for their many businesses, Amy has recently expanded her stay-at-home work to include leading author’s book launch teams for publishing companies like Baker, Revell, Barbour, and Lifeway.

She also enjoys teaching new authors about platform building, self-launching, and online marketing.

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