And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
We kind of know internally how we want to be treated. We want love. We want forgiveness. We want grace and mercy. We want to be treated fairly. And then maybe we can come to understand that other people want these same things, and so we try to treat them properly. But it’s not about getting to a place where we are following our own standard of behavior and expecting everyone to follow our way. It’s about abandoning our sinful tendencies and following God’s way instead.
Jesus suggests something more radical than merely doing as we please or what we think might be right, because we are to imitate God, not sinful man. His standards are higher. His behavior is more noble. His treatment of us is so much more gracious than we are sometimes willing to be with others. Because God loved us while we were yet sinners. He is willing to forgive an unlimited amount of times. He is willing to bless those who do not acknowledge Him at all. He does not cease being good no matter how people respond to His goodness.
So that is what we are to strive for. We love those we might call enemies. We have a forgiving and gracious heart toward others. We seek to be a blessing without receiving anything in return. We determine to live righteously no matter how unrighteously the world around us acts. We become willing to show kindness when others respond in hurtful ways. We deal in fairness no matter who tries to cheat us. We don’t allow ourselves to sink to a worldly level, but we rise up to God’s standards and adopt them for ourselves.
We all know what it’s like to be hurt. We’ve all had times where someone wouldn’t forgive us or love us or help us or show us any kindness. And honestly, we’ve all probably had times where we were unforgiving, unloving, unfair, and unkind. So we know how meaningful it is to show people the love of God, to sincerely care, to be willing to set ourselves aside in order to do what is truly right to do. It may be easier to give in to the flesh and only love those who love us back and only help those who can pay us back, but may we rise above that and conduct ourselves as Jesus wants us to as we seek to follow His example.