When studying the Bible, it’s incredibly important to look at the context of a passage. Verse 27 starts with the conjunction “but”, which indicates a contrast between what was said before it and after it. Verses 24 through 26 are the woes pronounced against those who have lives fulfilled in this world. Instead, Jesus says to His hearers, be like this&emdash;and He gives several actions and attitudes that He wants them to practice. Again, like the beatitiudes from the beginning of the sermon, they don’t make sense from a worldly perspective.
They are also really hard to get right all the time, as they are against our sin natures as well. Doing good to those who hate you is really hard. When someone curses you, the immediate reaction is to get mad and think hard thoughts about them, at the very least. Blessing them is the last thing on your mind. The one that struck me the most was “Give to everyone who begs from you”. I’ve definitely been guilty of not doing that.
Jesus continues with an explanation for His sayings. If we only love those who already love us, we are no different from anyone else. The same goes for doing good and lending money while expecting to get something in return. But if we sacrifice our time and money for other people, He says God will reward us well because He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (That’s us, by the way.) Our motivation should be to “pay forward” the mercy that God has given us to the people around us.
Help us to see people as You see them.