“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit 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 benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36)
Some of the most famous words in history! How many lives have been transformed by these passages? How many were drawn to Christ because of them?
The theme of this sermon is the difference between a godly life and a sinful one. Notice He talks little of obvious godly rules, like, Tithe and Don’t steal, but instead He focuses on the heart and actions that directly come out of it like hate, envy, and bitterness.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (6:27-28) – this is a hard command to simply follow if your heart’s in the wrong place. Thankfully, we can find our example in God Himself, who is constantly and daily blessing those who hate Him: “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45, similar context)
If we distill the passage from Luke, here are the marks of a godly, Holy Spirit filled life:
- You will love your enemies, returning good for evil
- You will be humble: “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either” (6:29)
- You will be generous, even to a fault (6:30)
- You will do good (6:35)
- You will not judge others or condemn
- “You will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (6:35)
- You will have hope despite present circumstances and even in persecution (from slightly earlier, in 6:20-23)
- You will be like Jesus
Contrast this with Paul’s list of “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (19-21). Many of these arise from a sinful heart devoid of any real love.
These "heart" sins are sometimes easier to ignore because they're not as measurable by the people around us. If we had a different sin problem, like watching pornography, we have the possibility of being caught and led to repentance. But sins like jealousy, anger, and enmity can be hidden so well that even we don't realize how much we suffer from them.
Jesus taught that it is what comes out of the heart that defiles a person (Matthew 15:10-20). Proverbs says, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life" (Prov. 4:23). If we claim to be Christians and love God we should be passionately committed to reviewing our heart and repenting any sins like these we find. We should be passionately committed to a different way of life, a godly way of life, full of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23), the "fruit of the Spirit".
I wish my life looked more like Jesus’ sermon. Thankfully, I have the hope and peace in Christ that the more I submit to Him the more it will.