Loving the Unloveable

Contemporary slavery continues to occur in present-day society. Estimates of the number of slaves worldwide today range from around 38 million to 46 million, with 71% of those being female, and 1 in 4 being children. That means 10 million of these contemporary slaves are children.
In the older form of slavery, slave-owners spent more on getting slaves. It was more difficult for them to be disposed of. The cost of keeping them healthy was considered a better investment than getting another slave to replace them. In modern slavery, people are easier to get at a lower price so replacing (disposing of) them when exploiters run into problems becomes easier. American slaves in 1809 were sold for around the equivalent of US $40,000 in today’s money. Today, a slave can be bought for $90-$100.
Now, imagine being so poor you used one of your children as collateral on a loan so that you could eat knowing you could not pay it back and your child would be taken into slavery. Imagine living in a world where this happening all around you. Imagine having to watch these innocent children being taken from the homes and sold into slavery knowing what would happen to them. How do you feel? Does this anger you?  It makes me angry.
In India, I saw many children used as slaves to beg. Some were cut in the face or otherwise disfigured so they were more pitiful and made better beggars. We were told by our guides to not give them anything because their owners were nearby and whatever we gave them would be taken from them. It was horrible. I couldn’t understand why such atrocities were permitted.
I was trying to think of some way I could have identified and annihilated those despicable slave owners. I can still see in my mind the faces of those poor children. Truthfully, I have always been filled with hatred towards those individuals. When I gave a small amount of money to one woman who had tended my shoes while I toured the Red Palace, upon leaving I looked back in time to see a man strike the woman and take the money from her. I was told not to intervene because it would make it even harder on the woman when I left. Good grief!
Matthew 5:43-48. You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 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.
How are you doing with loving your enemies? What does that mean to you? Does that mean that you let people walk all over you in the name of Jesus? Every one of us knows people that get under our skin. That we have a hard time communicating with.
But Jesus said love our enemies, be praying for them, which is two hard things to do. If we do what comes natural, we only love those that love us. We are no different than most of the world.
Luke 6 says, 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.
Luke seems to add that we should turn the other cheek when someone strikes you, If someone takes something from you let them have it without a fight.
These verses are often twisted.
Do unto others before they can do it to you.
I don’t get mad, I get even.
Keep honking, I am reloading.
Please tailgate, I need the money.
To err is human, but to forgive is out of the question.
That’s our world today. No extra mile. But Jesus tells us we must love one another as He has loved us.
Bless those that persecute you; bless and do not curse. Roman 12:14
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9
These teachings are counter-cultural to us. It requires that we abandon our common philosophy of promoting self-interest. The Greek word used in this passage for love is agape. This is the highest and noblest type of love. This love is not sentimental or romantic. In fact, this type of love does not depend upon feelings.
To Jesus, love was not a feeling but an act of the will. Love works for the good of the other person regardless of how they respond. Jesus modeled this teaching for us throughout His earthly life. He forgave His killers as He was dying on the cross. As His enemies used their political and military power against Him, Jesus did not respond negatively, He loved them. Jesus continued to love in spite of everything. We must respond with restraint when insulted. Respond with respect when threatened and always be prepared to respond with more than is expected.
This is hard because our natural inclination is to settle the score when someone does something to us. It is much easier to love those who are nice to us but the greatest test of our maturity in Christ is to learn to love those who we consider to be enemies. When we don’t retaliate against those who wrong us, we show that we truly belong to Jesus.
God does good even to those who despise Him. He makes the sun to shine on the just and unjust.
Learn to pray for those who abuse us. When we pray it shows what the true condition of our heart really is. Nothing requires more trust in God than praying for those who mistreat you.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22
Corrie ten Boom, who had lost most of her family in a Nazi concentration camp, often lectured on grace. But one day a man who came to shake her hand after such a talk turned out to be a former prison guard. Only by asking God to love through her did she find the grace to take his hand and offer him forgiveness.
May I love without expectations, reservations, and limitations. I pray as I call upon Lord Jesus to abide in me and cast out all revenge and contempt against those who have hurt me. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen!

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