Here is an example – for the sake of privacy we will call this lady Sarah. Sarah comes to church and takes whatever she can from the coffee table& slips it into her handbag. She takes everything from sweets & cakes to tea bags. As soon as the service starts she leaves. I am not 100% sure but it is possible that she even sells the sandwiches she gets from us to homeless people. She comes to our coffee mornings & we buy her coffee every week. She turns up every Sunday and every Thursday without fail & uses us! So what should we do? Complain & resent her for using us & hide things from her so she won’t “take them or perhaps we should refuse to pay for her coffee on Thursdays? She is not saved… has anyone bothered to tell her about Jesus or are they all waiting for her to come into a service to hear about Jesus.
“But I tell you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.
Guess what people, sinners sin – that is what they are supposed to do because they don’t know any better yet. We can’t be judgemental of sinners for sinning that is so silly. We need to love them& love means covering all their wrongs with love. It means doing good to them, it means blessing them, it means praying for them!
So what is love then?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all
Let’s see how love applies to Sarah. Are we suffering long with her?, are we kind to her,? do we envy her?, do we parade our good works in front of her?, do we behave rudely to her?, etc, etc. Can you see how love works – it is most definitely not a feeling it is flipping hard work.
I have had several opportunities to apply Luke 6:27-28 in my life& I promise you not once did it come easily and without pain. On one occasion I was robbed, literally, from money that was owed to me. I had bent over backwards for this person in so many ways & at the end of it all I was stabbed in the back. I was hurt, yes. I felt very angry & the last think I wanted to do was LOVE this person or pray for them. But never-the-less I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to not only pray for her but also send her an email saying that I was sorry for the misunderstanding & to ask for HER forgiveness! Let me tell you something, that was difficult & my flesh screamed out NOOOOOO! I am the victim why should I say sorry. Quite frankly I never wanted to speak to her again & thought it would be nice to take her to court for my money. But I knew what was right & for the sake of the gospel I did what the Holy Spirit told me to do. It hurt like hell & even though it did do it & worked at a friendship with her it did take time to stop feeling hurt. Even now when I see her I do still feel a little sting in my heart but I really do love her and know that one day she will accept Jesus as her saviour along with her precious daughter. I am sure of this because not only did Jesus pay the price for her salvation but I have paid a small price too to help her see Jesus in me.
I have other stories too but don’t want this post to get too long. Let’s just say that I know what it means to love my enemies, to do good to those that hate me, to bless those that curse me& to pray for those, like Sarah, who spitefully use me! I have experienced it all, I have paid the price for all those sorts of people & each & every time it was worth it. Some people are already bearing fruit as a result & others have much fruit to come.
How many of us have prayed to God that He will use us? We get intense in prayer… God pleeeeeeeease use me, I really want you to use me, I am all yours use me as you will. Well guess what! when you feel used your prayer is being answered! When you hear yourself complaining that someone in church or in your life is using you feel honoured because you are being USED. What do you think will happen when you pray to God to use you? Do you think there will be some warm fuzzy feeling in your tummy, perhaps a nice sprinkling of gold dust on your forehead or perhaps a few spot on words of knowledge that you bring in front of a crowd that acknowledge your spot on special gift? Probably not, the likelihood is that you will get used by a homeless person for sandwiches, you will get used by a lonely person for friendship, you will get used financially a single mum struggling, you will get used by your pastor to vacuum the church floor
every week, you will get used by your leader to change a baby’s nappy! Do you get the picture? At the end of all this being used do you say thank you to God for answering your prayer or do you complain that people are just using you! It’s actually quite funny to observe, I have been there too myself so am not putting myself on a pedal stool. We all pray to be used
If we are going to really be Christians& stop just acting like good people we will be hated, cursed & used! Possibly even persecuted. Why else would Jesus have said that we have to pick up our cross & follow Him? He didn’t say get saved & then skip along blissfully through the rest of your life. No he said pick up your cross because it is something painful to bear this Christian stuff. It is not easy and not for the feint hearted. The cross is an instrument of death – you will have to die to self, you will have to lose your life completely if you ever want to find your life in Christ. That means if you ever want to pick up being a Christian you have to give up being a non-Christian. Does that make sense? Perhaps this verse sums it up nicely.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.