“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36 NRSV)
Much human relationship is transactional – Jesus speaks in this section of Luke 6 about loving those who love us, doing good to the persons who do us good, and lending to those whom we expect will repay. Something is returned from what we give – love for love, good for good, money for money. Quid pro quo.
Jesus negates transactional relationships in God’s economy – an economy based on God’s behavior not ours. Love those who will not love, be good to the ones who will not return it, lend but expect nothing back.
The holidays often bring is into situations like this – where we weigh what has been done to us before we do. When past wrongs are rehearsed, when old debts of various kinds are remembered. This way that Jesus commands is hard in real human lives – the lives we live.
Do I measure my interaction by what I might gain by it? Do I evaluate someone’s worth in how much he or she is worth to me? Do I base my response on what response I think the other will give, has given, or – worse yet – what the someone deserves in my judgment? More often than I care to admit.
A reminder to me today that to love as God loves, to extend mercy as God extends mercy is my calling. God’s expectation of me.
Merciful God, make me to love as you love – especially those whom I find it hardest to love. Make me offer good to those who most would offer me nothing or worse in response. Make me lend, give, share with those who take advantage. Make me like you in fact. More today than yesterday. In Jesus’ name. Amen.