"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 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. 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. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:32-36
Loving those who love you back ... you scratch my back; I'll scratch yours ... the expectation of a favor returned ... that's the world we live in. And, to be honest it makes sense. We expect a return on our investment. I'll pay for this one; you catch the next one. We get irritated at the person who never pulls their weight. But that thing called "mercy" takes worldly sense and turns it upside down.
You love those who love you? No big deal, Jesus says. Even sinners--the ungrateful and wicked--do that. Most people are willing to give when they know the return is coming their way. But how about giving to those who have no intention of repaying you? Jesus said that's the kind of character that produces great rewards.
This is a tough one, isn't it? But the basis for this godly action is in the character of God Himself. He showed mercy to us by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins. He paid a debt that we could never repay. Knowing that we had nothing to give in return, He gave everything. When we show a no-strings-attached-mercy, in a small but powerful way, we reflect the character of God.
Father, I don't want to love my enemies. It is totally against my nature. Once again, I stand with my sinful nature doing battle with Your Word. I ask that You align my heart with Yours. Help me reject the rewards of this world and live for those that you will hand out in heaven. In Your Son's name. Amen.