But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (Luke 6:27-31)
As Jesus says this, He’s talking to the people who have been instructed with “an eye for eye and tooth for a tooth” methodology, but He says something different. He wants us to love, do good, bless, pray for, and give to those who are enemies, who hate you, who curse you, who abuse you, and who take from you. It’s completely backwards in our fleshly thinking, and yet it’s the correct way spiritually.
But What’s the Limit?
With this new perspective that goes against our flesh nature, the next question may be something like, what’s the limit then? How much good, how often to bless and pray for, how much to give? Just as when Peter asked, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21) In this, even seven times may seem like quite a lot, but Jesus responded with, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22)
Notice how Jesus started this passage in Luke with the preface of love. It’s the fruit of the Spirit, it’s what caused God to send Jesus to die for us, and it’s one of the very things God is defined as – God is love (1 John 4:8). It’s this very thing, love, that should direct our conduct towards those who are against us. Jesus’ love held nothing back in any of the areas mentioned and neither should ours.
When it comes to the question of how much or what’s the limit, verse 31 helps guide that mindset - as you wish others would do to you. Don’t worry about them, their motive, their actions, their deservedness of these good things Jesus has told you to do. We all want good things for ourselves, and we should be doing all things for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), therefore if we love like He does, the good things Jesus has commanded us to do in response to those against us will simply flow from love. There is a caveat though. Without abiding in Jesus, we’ll never be able to fulfill what He’s told us to do here since the fruit that comes from abiding is the fruit of the spirit - love.
Not Striving, Just Overflowing
In Psalm 23, it says that our Shepherd prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, anoints our head with oil, and our cup overflows. That anointing and overflow is the Spirit of God and if we’re anointed and overflowing with the Spirit, of whom the fruit is love, then that overflow will eventually flow out and touch the enemies of whose presence we happen to have our table set in.
We don’t need to focus on trying our best to love, do good, pray for, or give - we need to focus on the Preparer of our table and the One who has anointed our head and given us the overflow. The overflow will come, the love, the good, the prayers, it will all come as we sit at the table prepared for us and abide in Jesus. I pray you take the actionable aspect of this command Jesus has given, not to strive to do all these things on your own, but to abide and let Him do it through you. With Jesus, it won’t be a striving, it will be the fruit of the overflow of Him in you.