Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Love

Love Like God
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.” 
–Luke 6:32-35a (NIV)

There are plenty of passages in the Bible that take some work to understand but this passage above definitely does not. Jesus Christ is letting us know the rules: “You want to be a Christian? Follow me, do as I do, do as the Father does.”

Jesus is calling us here to be more than just countercultural in how we treat our fellow humans; He's showing us how to reset secular culture to reflect the culture of His kingdom. The world tells us to hate our enemies. We are to love them instead.

But what does that look like, loving an enemy? Is it saying “bless your heart” and ignoring them when they irk or anger us? Is it walking away from a fight? Not suing someone when we could? Not repaying their unkindness with some of our own? Yes, but it’s more heart-deep. We can curb our actions out in the world a whole lot easier than the thoughts in our heads and the feelings in our hearts. It’s easy enough to deny that we hate someone, but harder to not feel that hate, to not have hateful thoughts.

In this world, there are some truly terrible humans. How are we to love them? Billy Graham said, “You cannot pray for someone and hate them at the same time.” There I think we have the first and probably the best way to love those that hate us. Pray for them earnestly. Not the “Dear Lord, please forgive these fools for their foolishness...” sort of prayer either. Pray for them as if they were a loved one. See if you can start with words and follow with feelings.

Remember that every single person on this earth is made in the image of God.

Irrespective of their ethnicity, culture, creed, lifestyle, or habits, they are an image-bearer. All of us have people in our lives who challenge us, even actively hate us. When next faced with that person, try to lead with love (be patient, kind, longsuffering...) and have a Gospel-centered mind going into that interaction. If your particular problem person is not a believer, they’re lost, and you may be the person that God has placed in their life to help them understand repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Wow. That’s both an awesome responsibility and a privilege. How you treat them matters. How you feel about them matters.

The next time you’re tempted to lash out when wounded, or ridicule when made fun of, or criticize when criticized, think about the standard that Jesus sets in the verses above. Love everyone. Give freely, expecting no return. Do good to all. The bar is high, and we’re obviously still persevering on the road toward sanctification, but believers see the path as lighted by His Word. When we show love to those who hate us, we shine the light of the Gospel for a world in desperate need of direction.

Let’s Pray: Father God, please help us love, give freely, and do good in all the places in this world where you have sent us. Help us to spread the Gospel with our every word and deed. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

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

She began her writing career at the age of eleven, filling a sketchbook with poems and short stories. After publishing a few short pieces in her college’s literary magazine she took a long hiatus during which she embarked on a few different careers, got married, had three kids, and renovated an old barn masquerading as a house.

Her most recent work, The Redemption Road, finished the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty. She and her family live along the coast of New England.

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