Day 73: Rewards and Relationships

Luke 6:31-35 :

“As you would like people to do to you, do exactly so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive back as much. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.

We should do to others as we would have them do to us, and we see in this teaching that Jesus is talking about mercy and kindness. In other words, when we do something bad to another person, we need mercy and forgiveness from them later even though we don’t deserve it. For us as believers, we wanted Jesus to not pay us as we deserved, but to have mercy on us and give us what we didn’t deserve and He did that. This is the same as we should treat others. We have a benefit that the disciples who were listening to Jesus that day didn’t have. We have already seen God’s salvation and have the Holy Spirit to guide us, and because of this, we can act out of thanksgiving for the mercy and grace that we received.

The next thing to consider is “credit.” As believers, we get credit in heaven for taking a beating for Jesus. That’s what I was referring to yesterday. When we take abuse for the sake of Jesus, He never forgets and has promised a reward. If you believe in this, and you are persecuted, you should be “leaping for joy” because you have received a reward and it will never go away. Jesus has crushed sin’s cyclical power by renovating the reward system. If we are rewarded under His economy for taking a beating for Him, then we have no reason to fight back and ruin our chances at getting the reward. The hope we have is that we will do “above and beyond” what a common sinner would do. Notice that Jesus said if you do these things that “your reward will be great.” Remember this is the one who made the world in 6 days. If He says your reward will be great, then I don’t believe it is out-of-order to consider yourselves to be richer than any man on the earth today.

Notice also that He says “and you will be children of the Most High.” Now, today we know as believers, we already have been made “children of the Most High” by what Jesus has done for us. To those disciples listening, this was yet a future thing, and I think that I am right about this interpretation. I know for sure that God is not asking you and I to do good works in order to be His children. That was a free gift, but the gift had not yet been given when Jesus spoke these words. Now that we have been given the gift of salvation, our faith should be producing these qualities. These qualities prove our relationship with Jesus and with God as His children. If we don’t produce these qualities, then what does that say about who our father is? Children behave like their parents and God’s children, if they really have become God’s children, will start acting like God does and God “is kind toward the unthankful and evil.”

Now, I want to make one last note about this “turn the other cheek” teaching. This entire passage is spoken to Jesus’ disciples who were going to be leaders of the Church later. A disciple is one who acts like their Master and Jesus is our Master. Jesus was not asking us to do what He would not do. Did Jesus give to anyone who asked of Him in any and all cases? The answer is no. Jesus didn’t feed people every time they asked as we read in John. He didn’t always perform miraculous signs just because people wanted to see them. He even avoided crowds at times instead of going to see them when He wanted to get away. Clearly, Jesus wasn’t suggesting that we always do everything we are asked to do. I think that the overriding point is that some things that people want us to do would be harmful to them or outside of God’s will for us to do. Jesus was always in tune with the Father and the Holy Spirit and knew when He was being asked to do something in conflict with the will of the Father. Some of the things that Jesus was asked to do by the Father were extremely difficult to endure such as when He fasted for 40 days and was tempted. Other times, the Father wanted Him to spend time with Him in prayer, which I believe He thoroughly enjoyed. The point I believe I see is that when God isn’t telling us otherwise, I believe He wants us to give, even to those who don’t deserve it.