“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5:46, MEV
I was on kind of a trip reading this because sometimes I don’t even act lovingly toward the people who do love me. Jesus is saying to love those who don’t love you — and saying that even the worst sinner can love people that love him… But apparently sometimes I can’t.
Then I felt like Jesus was telling me this verse was never intended to condemn me or anyone. Rather, it was intended to open the eyes of his listeners and later readers who didn’t even realize there was an option to love people who don’t love them.
But there is a way. Once you come into the realization that your whole identity is the beloved of God, then you begin to see everyone else that way as well. You see their wicked actions and wish they didn’t feel compelled to cause destruction, but you know that the only cure for their pain in their behavior is to see themselves as God’s beloved. And you realize because God loves you, you can love others.
In fact, this is the only way you can love some people: when God’s love in you does it for you. Which means: at any given moment, my response of love is down to Jesus, not me.
I felt like he was saying, “Look at me. It took the holy Creator of everything, the great Lover, the one who is Love, to love the jacked-up world enough to fix it. Don’t worry if your reserves of love can’t carry the day every time. Those reserves were used up long ago. Now you just rest in my love. ”
This was all phenomenally encouraging. I know he is love, I know he loves me, and I know because he loves I can love others. If it doesn’t always work it’s way out of me perfectly, I can’t worry my pretty little head about that. All I can do is trust in him.