One of the sayings of Jesus that I find most inspiring and challenging is in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 6, where Jesus says:
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
(Luke 6:32-35 ESV)
Most of us do things for others with at least some expectation that we will receive something in return. If we are nice to others, we expect that they will be nice to us in return. If they are not, we tend to get upset about it.
Many of us give with the expectation, that at least the recipient will be appreciative of our generosity.
Many of us love, with the expectation that our love will be reciprocated – and if it is not, then we tend to “clam up”, because to love is to make oneself vulnerable, and unreciprocated love leaves us more vulnerable than reciprocated love.
But here is Jesus challenging us toward something that does not come naturally: to GIVE, expecting nothing in return.
Why? Because that is how God loves. And if you do that, then you will understand the heart of the Father in a profound way, and you will be like Him. Because He gives to the ungrateful and the evil – He blesses people who don’t deserve it and don’t even appreciate it.
If He gets nothing out of it, then why does He do it? Because that is what divine love does: it gives, not as a means of coercion, but simply gives out of pure love.
I want to be that kind of person, to my wife, to my kids, to those around me – even to my “enemies”. This is the vision; only by the grace of God can I carry it out.