In Luke 6:20-23, Jesus comments on those who live not for themselves and not for today. Instead, certain people live for the Son of Man and the glorious joy still to come. Sometimes on earth, this is a wealthy and happy assembly. However, quite often, they are best described as being poor, hungry, weepy, hated, excluded, reviled, and spurned. Yet, they should take joy; theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven with all its spiritual and eternal benefits.
In the following verses, Jesus comments on those who live for themselves and for today. They are not interested in focusing on the Son of Man, and they are certainly not focused on future delight. Quite often, according to the providence of God, they find themselves rich, full, jolly, and well-spoken of. However, their joy is to be short-lived, for Jesus promises to return and give a full recompense to those who will not receive his mercy and grace and fall on their knees before him. Mourning and weeping are promised to all who are enemies of Jesus Christ.
So the point is quite clear: men and women ought to focus less on themselves and more on Christ, and in the process they ought to focus less on a blissful today and more on a blissful tomorrow. Over time, the skinny and sorrowful friend of Christ is better off than the fat and happy enemy of the Father and his Son.
And what will happen as one finds himself living for Jesus and focusing on the coming joy? One will find himself able to respond differently towards those harming him today. Hear the words of Jesus from Luke 6:27-36:
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. “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. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
According to the Teacher, those who live for themselves and focus on today, they are characterized by justice, fairness, equity, revenge, payback, self-protection, and self-promotion. They cannot wait for happiness tomorrow, so they must do everything within their means to grab personal happiness today. Therefore, they are less interested in Jesus, less interested in obeying Jesus, less interested in looking like Jesus, less interested in bestowing upon others the forgiveness, mercy, and grace of Jesus, and most interested in pleasing Number One and living for today. Their motto might as well be, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice; shame on me.”
Not so those who have died with Christ Jesus. Such men and women no longer live to worship themselves and pursue immediate gratification. Instead, due to the working of the Holy Spirit, they are becoming more like Christ, and this is evidenced by their ability to forgive, express mercy, and shower grace upon those who deserve it not. Like Christ, Christians are characterized as worshipers who:
- Love their enemies
- Do good to their haters
- Bless their cursers
- Pray for their abusers
- Forbear their smiters
- Profit their stealers
- Give to beggars
- Lend to moochers
Therefore friends, there is nothing special about loving those who love in return. Unbelieving sinners, who value not Jesus Christ, they are willing to stoke those who stroke them. However, it is a trait of regeneration and sanctification for one to worship God by blessing those who terribly buffet them. Those who respond in such an unusual, forgiving, merciful, and gracious manner, they are proving they are like their Father in Heaven. They are also like their teacher on earth — the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, they are showing forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps, as they express such unnatural responses, they will be temporally blessed by the King of kings. However, perhaps they will not see justice done on earth; perhaps they will die as did the King of kings. However, they should keep in mind that being “fat and happy” in this life is not all that matters. Sometimes, being “skinny and sorrowful” is much more pleasing to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.