“Hard Work… Being Kind”
Luke 6:27-38, February 20th, 2022
Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
“Hear now these words from the gospel according to Luke, chapter six, verses twenty-seven thru thirty-eight.”
27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.” 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 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. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
“Having listen to today’s lesson let us now open our hearts as we consider the implications of Jesus’ teaching in regards how we are to be in relationship with others.”
“Hard Work… Being Kind”
Jesus was a kindhearted, caring, and compassion man, who gave his all for the sake of our salvation. Jesus sought to rescue us, thus restoring our full relationship with our Creator God. The first line of our scripture this morning begins with Jesus telling us we are to Love our enemies. Jesus was speaking of Agape Love which is consider a more pure and sacrificial form of loving others, rather than a simply romantic love. As we begin this time of reflection let us start with the easier side of being good to others. We each have a list or a circle of friends and family that we whole heartedly care deeply for. In the purest sense of the word, we surely ‘love’ and ‘care’ for this grouping of people. No, it is not always easy to love those we care about. Why? Because even with our dearest of family and friends, we sometimes allow their humanness to get in the way of our love for them. This begins in our youth. Our dear loving mother, or our father, or that special caregiver, grand-parent, or entrusted friend that is responsible for our wellbeing, asks us to do something we do not want to do. Perhaps: it is to clean up our room or share something of ours with another. Ouch! You do not want to do it and your attitude toward that loved one grows cold or at least losses its shine, if only for but a moment. We come to understand – it is not always easy to ‘love’ or even ‘like’ someone all the time – with the highest form of agape love! Hopefully, this feeling only lasts a moment. Yet we must already acknowledge that being kind, being loving and compassion, all the time, can… be hard!
Then there are those groupings of people, that tend to rub you the wrong way, now and then. These folks are not in your inner circle of people you really like! Surely, they are not part of your speed-dial listing on your cell phone or even on your landline if you still own one of those! Now, Jesus’ message is annoying. His words speak all to clearly as to how we are to treat these folks. And what about that next circle of people, in your neighborhood, that you really do not care fore. The neighbor that has the dog that is always using your yard to… well you know what I mean. And their kids are the ‘really’ wild ones that are constantly rude to you when they see you coming. You have tried to speak to the adults at that house, but most days, you are not sure… if it is worth the effort. So, what about this group, are you ready to embrace them with the ‘warmth’ to which Jesus speaks of? There must be a little wiggle room here, right? Maybe if we simply walk down the other side of the street, they ‘will not irk’ and annoy you so much. Or is this just avoiding the inevitable; cause surely, they will cross your path again – soon enough.
Individually, we have opinions on those things we have come to learn are ‘unsafe’ or ‘unhealthy’ topics to discuss in today’s toxic environment. You, surely know of what I speak; politics, healthcare, taxes, the pandemic, inflation and the three or four plus topics you ‘hope’ I will not bring up! It truly is hard to say that we really pray for and care about everyone who has different views on such topics as these! And we have yet to leave our homes or venture beyond Indian River County to our south! What about folks that have ‘hurt us deeply’ and others who ‘speak badly of us openly’! How are we to Love them! Certainly, it is hard to do! We can start with Jesus’ statement in verse twenty-eight. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” /Luke 6:28/ If it is just a ‘simple blessing’ and a ‘prayer’ for someone, surely, we can do that! Right? I have had to do that, more than once. The advice given me from my spiritual advisor has been that the prayer needs to be sincere, not just a ‘hallow’ string of words. Praying for their wellbeing and wholeness. Asking God to bless them and love them for us, with the same guidelines we might pray for our own wellbeing. It is not being selfish when we ask God to give us what we need to be whole, thereby giving us the tools to be of service to the ministry of God’s work here on Earth and to be of service to others.
Furthermore, if we believe in forgiveness from God, we need to be willing to pass it forward to others also. Of course, there are a few simple guidelines we need to learn so that we can do this with integrity. Most certainly, forgiveness is part of loving others, as God loves us. And we do need to become willing to offer God’s blessings for others. Also, we are to offer prays for those who have hurt us. Trust me, I know, this is not an easy ask. Let us stop here for a moment. Our God, through the words of Jesus, ‘is not asking us to condone injurious behavior’ whether that conduct be breaking moral or social laws. However, we are not getting a ‘pass’ to seek out revenge or cast judgement on another. If it is a social law which is broken, we will need to trust our judicial system to judge the crime. If we have a dispute regarding the system, that is a separate thought, and we can talk about that at another time. If they have broken a moral law, we must leave that up to God to judge them, that is not our place. Bear in mind, we still can ‘condemn’ an action or an event, but we must do so without taking the role of God or our justice system into our own hands.
Further, we are still ‘asked’ to treat others as we would expect others to treat us. If someone hurts us or someone we care about, it can hurt ‘really’ bad. Wrongs against us – they can disrupt our very lives! Jesus is not erasing or removing these realities from us. However, the teachings of Jesus, especially today’s lesson, does not give us a green light to hurt another because of our pain. Sometimes this can feel very unfair, yet it is the “Golden Rule.” Two wrongs never erase the first and the second only compounds the situation, it never ‘evens’ the score’ either! To go against this basic reasoning simply ‘escalates’ a problem and ‘ultimately’ hurts more people as others get involved in the situation at hand. Pulling even more of God’s beloved into the midst the conflict or problem. We could look back at situations that started out wanting to get justice for others, as we reflect. Yet, for now, having read and acquainted ourselves with this passage, this teaching from Jesus and allowed it into our hearts, we will ultimately realize what it is that we must do. We must do this while asking God for help for the marginalized and the victims of such social injustice; and at the same time, praying for those seen as the perpetrators of the matter. Jesus calls upon us to do this – even while the situation is still happening! Let us be clear! Protesting the injustices in our society is good. Yet the words of Jesus are holding us personally accountable for any actions we take – that goes against the moral laws of God! When we study history we see how such behaviors, left unchecked, can lead to wars which always cost horrific loss of life. Surely, this is not the will of God! /Luke 6:32/
Jesus was a very gifted speaker. He knew his subject and he knew to whom he spoke. Being of human origin and having the essence of the ‘Divine’ Jesus fully grasped the enormity of what he was teaching. As was his nature, Jesus tosses into his teaching a little psychology. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” /Luke 6:32/ This is easy to grasp and may even make this challenge a bit easier to grasp. Consider this: If someone you know and love summons you to come at once, because they want you to taste the scrumptious sweet dessert that they just made, the one that is your favorite, you would obey their command instantly. Would you not? Of course, you would! And of course, you will go on loving and caring for them. Suppose that same loved one asked for something you have, would you not be willing to give it to them. Would you give it to them with no expectations of getting it or something back in return? That is the core of our discussion. Accept this challenge and perhaps you will be able to follow the fullness of this lesson and strive to truly embrace the concept of – unconditional love, kindness, and compassion for others, even your enemies.
Since we started this conversation, we have all struggled… at least a little. For we adults, we know, all too well… it is “Hard work… being kind!”
We have been struggling with this for a long time. Thankfully, we know that Jesus dedicated his life, to teaching us the ways of God, preparing us for the life our Heavenly Father envisions for us. Jesus has told us the direction and the ‘spirit’ of how we are to move forward. Each week, we, you, and I, we seek to glean something new – from the scriptures. Now as we continue forward, on our journeys of faith, we shall strive to live within the teaching of Christ, praying we can follow in his footprints. We know that at times it will be hard, yet we shall endeavor to be forgiving, loving, and kind to ‘all’ of those we meet, just as God has been to us.