Now I want to consider this idea from the standpoint of loving others. It cannot be any clearer in our previous texts that we are commanded to forgive others. It is God’s will and given in the form of imperatives in the New Testament. Therefore, this short consideration today will add no new force to the discussion, but it will simply view it from another angle.
It cannot be doubted from a contextual consideration or from common sense that there is to be a distinction in how we love other people. In other words, my love for a spouse will be different from my love for a church member that I know. That is obvious. Therefore, to say we are to love others doesn’t mean that we love everyone in the exact same manner and degree.
With that in mind, we also cannot deny or ignore Jesus’ commands to love our enemies. Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27, and Luke 6:35 all state that believers are to love their enemies. This does not and will not call for me to love those enemies, in complete identical fashion, the same way I love my true brothers and sisters in Christ.
Nevertheless, we are called to love those that do not act lovingly toward us. In both Matthew and Luke, Jesus tells us to love those that treat us harshly and persecute us. We
are NOT to be kind only to those that treat us kindly. That is the way the world acts.
Instead, we are to emulate our Father in heaven. He provides rain on the just and unjust, as well as kindness to the grateful and ungrateful. We are to resemble the One
who loves us and gave Himself for us.
Without going into a survey of numerous passages, let’s simply “cut to the chase” and look at the most well known text on love. It is 1 Corinthians 13. We will narrow our focus
even more and highlight verses 4-6.
“Love is patient, love is kind is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into
account a wrong suffered.” (NASB)
While that passage is abundantly rich in content, notice the last phrase, “love…does not take into account a wrong suffered.” That is, love does not keep a ledger marking down all of the instances of mistreatment and wrongs suffered. Love seeks to forgive and
cover any record of the offense. Love doesn’t write in permanent marker, but seeks to use permanent “white out.”
Years ago I spoke on this text during a Valentine’s Banquet. One of my favorite people in the church, a senior gentleman of approximately 90, shook my hand as he left and claimed he needed to go “do some bookkeeping.” He was going to cancel some accounts.
Jesus told us to love those who do not treat us in a loving manner. As a matter of fact, they aren’t indifferent to us; they mistreat us, abuse us, persecute us, and are unkind. We
are not called to be victims or punching bags. We are not to respond in harshness or unkindness or fury.
We are called to love them. We are to be patient, recognizing that they are children of Satan and blinded concerning the depths of their spiritual depravity. We don’t act arrogantly, but we display humility and gentleness. We do not seek and pursue our own fame, place of honor, preeminence, etc., but we consider that God’s grace has made us
what we are. God’s glory is to be our pursuit.
We don’t record wrongs done to us and then maintain that “Ledger of Bitterness.” Love erases that debt and releases the person from any consideration of retribution.
Do you have any bookkeeping that calls for your attention?
May God give us grace upon grace to consistently and faithfully use our erasers and white-out. God erased our sins and blotted them out. How can we refuse to honor and obey Him by doing the same?