Luke 6:27-38: Love Without Pretense

Read: Luke 6:27-38

Jesus was the master of quotable truth. A number of his saying found in Luke and Matthew are common vernacular in the English language. A few include “Judge not, and you will not be judged”, “Love your enemies” and “Turn the other cheek”. While these sayings are good and true, one needs to understand them in the full pericope of what Jesus taught and said to avoid misquoting or misusing these sayings.

The contrast Jesus gives in the text between “loving one’s enemies” and doing good to those who are good offers a key insight. Jesus rhetorically asks, “What good is it to do good to those who do good?” This obviously has no benefit, but when does it to his or her enemies, it goes against the grain because it makes the recipient take a pause because there is real virtue in this action because it requires sacrifice. The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-36 speaks to this virtue. When asked, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus give the parable talking about a Samaritan doing good to someone in need when a priest or Levite would not. The Samaritan did what was right and good without asking about who the man was, where he came from, what his name was or anything of the like rather than merely restricting his “good” to who where like him.

The virtue that Jesus is describing of doing good while expecting nothing in return is the essence of what is implied by the Greek word, “agape” – one of the many Greek words translated “love”. 1 Corinthians 13 lists in detailed the what this kind of love entails: a virtue that is love without any sort of love in return. Jesus said that this love is epitomized by a man laying his life down for a friend (John 15:13). The reward of such love is not found in what one will receive in return or even in the ease of loving those who are like oneself, rather it is as Jesus says – it is wrapped up in rewards in heaven.

Modern culture uses these sayings to attempt to silence those who preach against sins that aren’t in keeping with the Scriptures, but given the context, that is not at all what Jesus was talking about. Rather, he was admonishing his hearers to become people who were people of conviction that loved by withholding nothing and not “judging” others as the Levite and priest did, even when persecuted. Christians can take heart, knowing that judgment and vengeance belong to God, but can still speak the truth in love – this is not judgment. And those that hear the truth will be won over by love (1 Peter 3:13-16).

Lord, help me to love everyone without pretense!