Luke 6:32 (see also Question #1 – Matthew 5:46) – “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.” NIV
This passage is from Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain (level ground) recorded in Luke 6. Its contents are similar to much of the content in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7. While the wording is slightly different, the idea is the same. However, it is an idea worth repeating.
If as Christ-followers we are to become transformed into the image or likeness of Jesus, then it follows that we begin to act and respond in ways that Jesus would act and respond. One of those ways is how we treat people. God is always the initiator of love. According to John 3:16, it was God’s love that prompted Him to send Jesus to this earth to reveal His love for us in a tangible way. It was Jesus’ love that prompted Him to die on the cross for our sins. This love was given to us even before we came to follow Jesus while we were still “sinners.” (Romans 5:6-8)
Most people … even people who don’t claim to be godly … tend to respond well to kindness and love. The difference comes in who initiates the love. The response can’t be experienced if there’s not an initiator. As followers of Jesus, we are to be like Him and initiate love for others. Again, this is agape love, a self-giving, sacrificial love that considers others before ourselves. It is not how we naturally act. It is how Jesus acted. We are called to follow His example. There are plenty of people who need to experience God’s love through me today … perhaps the very person I encounter next at school, work, or in the check-out line… perhaps the person in my life with whom I am currently experiencing the most problems.
Will I love those who don’t love me first and may even greatly dislike me?