May 22, 2024

Some hard things Jesus asks of us

As Jesus taught and preached, sometimes he had some pretty hard things to say. And because they are hard to hear, imagine and even do, what do most of us do when we read these things? We gloss over them. We assume Jesus never meant them literally. We think those commands couldn’t possibly apply to us.

I have been struggling as I read Luke 6, where after the beatitudes Jesus gives some commands to the large crowd that had come from around Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon to hear him and be healed of their diseases. 

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 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.  And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

“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.”

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:27-36

“Love your enemies.”

“Do good to those who hate you.”

“Bless those who curse you.”

“Pray for those who abuse you.”

“Give your tunic to the one who takes away your cloak”

“Give to EVERYONE who begs from you.”

“Do not demand back that which is taken from you.”

“Forgive.”

“Give.”

YaYe! How now? I want to fear my enemies– those who have deeply hurt me, those who try to malign me or undercut and undermine me and if you are as African as I, we believe there’s always someone trying to bewitch me. These are to be feared, not loved. I want to avoid those that hate me — common sense dictates so. Ignore the haters and trolls’. Where am I going to do them good when I am blocking them faster than they can say mschew?

I eyeball those who curse me and in unguarded moments curse right back albeit under my breath. And I am not giving those who hurt me or take advantage of me and opportunity to do it twice. Boundaries man! And, could Jesus have possibly meant that we give to all who ask? All? We do not have bottomless pockets, we do not want to foster co-dependency and no to being taken advantage of.

As you can see, I read those commands and decided they were too hard so they couldn’t have been meant for me. Jesus must have been speaking in code. Or just saying outrageous things to simply stun. But arriving in verse 46 Jesus asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you?”

Jesus had just finished telling them to love their enemies and forgive and give to all who ask and to remove the logs in their eyes before they can nitpick at other people’s specks. He was calling them to a much highre standard of love than the world normally gives.

And He is calling us to love the undeserving and be kind to difficult people and generous to those who have exhausted their social capital.

Why? Because we are to be starkly different from the world. We are to be like our Father who is kind to the ungrateful and the evil and who gives both to the deserving and undeserving.

Jesus contrasts us with sinners who know how to lend expecting their money back and who can love those who love them. We on the other are called to do good in hard places — Jesus washing Judas’ feet kind of good. Let-me-rather-be-wronged kind of good. Submit-yourselves-to your-bosses-even-when-they-are-harsh kind of good. Win-them-over-with-your-conduct kind of good. Holy Spirit help us. Not retaliating, not revenging, not even wishing those who hurt us evil. Gospel musician, minister, intercessor, you cannot curse those who hurt you with the same mouth you use to praise God. You cannot cover hate with prayers and lamentations.

On the flipside, we too are underserving in certain quarters. We have logs in our eyes yet we see the specks of sawdust in others. Yet with measure we use for others, that same measure will be used on us. Because we all need grace extended to us, we extend grace.

Also, in obeying these commands, Jesus promises that our reward will be great and we will be sons of the Most High.

Would the measure you use to love difficult people be considered merciful or are you king/queen of retributive justice? I think it’s not for us to judge what people deserve. Our call is to obey Christ who commands us to be kind to the ungrateful and the haters, to love generously, to forgive even those we think don’t deserve to be forgiven and to give as to the Lord, expecting nothing back.

We are good trees and no good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is known by its own fruit. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil. Because we are children of the most High God, we have godly treasure. It’s in us to bear kindness and generosity and grace and forgiveness as a result of our godly root. We can love our enemies and bless those who curse us and give without expecting anything in return because we are children of the Most High and because we have clothed ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Roman 13:14). Some of us for sure need pruning that we may bear more fruit but may we not doubt that we can do this because we absolutely can as we remain grafted to the life-giving vine, Christ. Let us not give up; in Christ, we shall bear fruit because he begins a new life in us by His spirit that is able to do what in flesh we cannot. May we entrust ourselves to the gardener that we may bear fruit after His kind.

Luke 6: 12-49

John 15

Kageni Muse

Kageni Muse is a journalist living in Nairobi. She is married to Muse and together they have three children. She is a passionate advocate for children, families and the church and daydreams of a hammock with a view of the hills.

View all posts by Kageni Muse →

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