“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Loving people who have neat and tidy lives is easy. However, if we are going to live out justice and compassion, this means loving those who aren’t like us, and who don’t have orderly lives. Matthew 5:46-48 challenges us to love those who may never pay us back.
Loving people who are difficult to love requires a source outside of ourselves. Our human love has clear limitations. We may be able to pull off loving the unlovable for a while, but that well dries up pretty quickly. First Corinthians 13:4-7 speaks of a love that, lived out daily, comes from the heart of God.
What does this look like? Going to places where we are not comfortable: back alleys, housing projects, places where people are lonely and are calling out for help.
Do we meet them on our turf or theirs? Do we call them to come to us or do as Christ said by going to them? Indeed, our churches have wonderful programs in them; maybe some would come, but many won’t.
Marshall was a man who spent his time in a back alley, alone. He felt unworthy to come out onto main streets. He was a struggling alcoholic, yet he had a heart that revered God. One day, Marshall went into the church on the corner in his neighbourhood. He announced that tomorrow was his birthday, a day to make a new beginning with God. Marshall died two days later, trusting God.
SCRIPTURE TO REFLECT ON: MATTHEW 5:46–48
1. Who is one person in your life, or whom you’ve encountered briefly, who doesn’t have a neat and tidy life? What is one way you can demonstrate selfless love to this person, recognizing that you will not be repaid by them, perhaps not even thanked?
2. What is the source of your love? Why do you serve at church? Why do you volunteer?
Why do you do kind things for people?
Donna Dyck is the author of Confessions of a Not-So-Average Girl and Not Beyond Our Reach. Her deepest desire is to see shattered lives restored through the power of Jesus Christ. Donna and her husband, Bill, have been serving as lead pastoral couple in Toronto Alliance Church for 15 years. Their ministry is focused on restoring broken lives among the poor, newcomers to Canada, at-risk children and youth, and those struggling with addictions.