Today’s passage contains what is probably the most well-known proverbial type of quote from the Bible, yet likely also the most difficult to apply: Do to others as you would have them do to you.
You’ve got to be kidding! Really? Do that? It goes against everything that is natural. One of the reasons I did not go further as a baseball pitcher beyond my college years is that I couldn’t apply something like this! If a guy went sliding into second base with his spikes up, I’d remember his number and then hit him in the head with a rising fastball the next time he came to the plate. He earned it! He deserved it!
Yet that is the way most folks live life … from injustices in the office, to rude drivers who need to be taught a lesson, to the crazy relative that shakes the family tree, to the annoying, fellow church member who wrongly irritated us in some way. They deserve to have whatever rebound in their face, and we can make it happen.
This is not the way God deals with us, however. We deserve his judgment as enemies of God and the result of his wrath upon our sin. But he has given us the payment of the blood of Christ with the open-ended offer to have our sin debt paid. And having received such grace, why should we not be conduits of that grace to others – even those who wrong us and are enemies by definition?
There is something tremendously disarming about applying this principle. I’ve done it far too few times in my life. But I can specifically recall several occasions where I became aware of some church person who was calling for head in similar fashion as Herodias and her daughter requested of Herod about John the Baptist; and rather than fight back, I have looked for ways to show extreme kindness – applauding them and their family for anything good I could genuinely affirm, inviting them to lunch as my guests, etc. On these occasions, they simply don’t know what to say or how to respond. You can hear the bullets falling out of their weapons and hitting the floor. Again, I’d like to say this is what I’ve most often done; but honestly, I have more frequently dropped them with a two-seamer in the earhole of their batting helmet, figuratively speaking.
The reason we can confidently extend such grace and kindness that flies counter to every natural proclivity about justice is because we can trust God for ultimate justice and reward for ourselves. It may not happen in this life. The kindness extended may be seen as weakness and the opportunity for the enemy to double-down on their attack. But that’s OK. God knows, and that’s all we need to know.
It is all about kingdom-focused living. It is the bigger picture, the greater reality.
Luke 6:27 – “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 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? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.