Relationships can be hard.
The other day, we were having a learning moment in our family when I had to sit one child down and ask them the question, “Would you like it if someone treated and talked to you in the same way you just did to your sibling?” If you’re a teacher, parent, or work with children in any form or capacity, I’m sure you ask that question regularly.
I can remember as a child my mama quoting Luke 6:31 to me, “Brittany, treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.” So, when I think about this verse and our passage today, I often think about this lesson being taught to little children. And yet the gospel of Luke wasn’t aimed at children. It was written for Gentiles of all ages, but with a more adult audience in mind. This verse isn’t just something little kids need to practice, it’s something we adults need to wrestle with, too. Though we’ve simplified this lesson into a child’s Bible story, it turns out it’s actually very difficult to live out as an adult.
Luke 6:31-36 shows us what it looks like to treat others in a way that honors Christ. Verse 32 says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” Luke isn’t just talking about easy friendships, but those hard, messy ones. But he doesn’t stop there, he takes it even further. Not only are you to befriend those who don’t love you, but you’re called to do good to them (v. 33), to lend things to those who can’t repay you (v. 34), to love your enemies, do good for them, and lend your resources to them without expecting anything in return (v.35).
This is what gospel love looks like when it’s lived out in our relationships.
I don’t know about you, but this passage seems a lot easier when we are simply “being nice” and “loving” the people we want to. But truly, this type of love – this type of unconditional relationship – is counter-cultural. I want you to take a moment and evaluate what your specific culture says about relationships.
For example, my culture might be different from yours, but my culture tells me that relationships are for fun. They exist to bring me happiness and if one gets difficult, then I don’t need that toxic energy in my life anymore. According to my culture, I have every right to abandon the relationship when it stops meeting my needs. Perhaps your culture puts different expectations on relationships, but whatever it is, think about what this passage says about relationships in comparison to the world around you.
And now, I want you to imagine what your sphere of influence would look like if you lived out the commandments asked of you in Luke 6. Who in your life is especially difficult to love? Who would you consider to be an enemy, or maybe not an enemy, but someone you try to avoid? Who would take notice and be drawn to the Good News of Jesus because of the way you lived out gospel love in your relationships?
Sisters, Scripture tells us that the world will know we are followers of Christ because of our love for one another (John 13:35). What an opportunity to point to the unconditional love of Christ, by loving not just our friends but our enemies well.
So let’s go back to the beginning. Relationships can be hard – yes. But hard relationships are but mere opportunities to reflect the very image of God, for “he is kind to ungrateful and evil people” (Luke 6:35).
Friends, today, spend some time praying for the people who first came to mind when you answered the questions above. But also, pray God would soften your heart so you can love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind, and He would help you love your neighbor (both friends and enemies!) as much as you love yourself. These are the greatest commandments that He’s asked us to follow as children of God, mirroring His goodness on this earth.
Week 3 Challenge:
Make a commitment to be a completely trustworthy friend this week. If you slip and gossip about someone or share something you shouldn’t, work intentionally to build habits that foster love and trust in friendship instead of dissension.
Week 3 Reading Plan
Week 3 Memory Verse
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