If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
If you have a young son, as I do, you probably want to see him grow up to be a man of strength. But when it comes to masculinity, the world’s view of strength is often only viewed as a physical attribute.
Society teaches boys at an early age that they need to be tough. Later in life, phrases like “be a man” or “man up” are used to discourage any outward display of emotion that could be perceived as weakness. And when guys are acted upon aggressively, the cultural expectation is that this aggression would be met with equal hostility—rarely leading to anything positive.
But in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has something to say about this misconceived notion of strength. When we’re treated poorly, whether emotionally, verbally, or even physically, our retaliation isn’t always the answer (unless it’s an act of self-defense in a dangerous situation). Christ reminds us to “do to others as you would like them to do to you (Luke 6:31 NLT).”
In these situations, demonstrating an even greater strength, through a much more vulnerable course of action, is what Jesus asks of us: love our enemies (Luke 6:27).
It requires a vulnerability to speak the truth in love, and then let our words simmer rather than forcefully make a point. It involves vulnerability to work through a misunderstanding rather than lash out in anger. We must show vulnerability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes to better understand their point of view in the heat of a moment. And when we do these things even when we know the other person isn’t likely to reciprocate our gesture, that requires us to be vulnerable as well.
It’s easy to show kindness to those who are kind to you. And it’s easy to love those who love you back. But it takes an act of will, a conscious effort, and faith in our God to love those who do wrong towards us. This level of vulnerability is a sign of real strength, and it’s what we should instill into our sons.
Jesus asks us to follow his example by loving our enemies. Today, if you encounter someone who mistreats you, don’t retaliate but treat them the way you would want to be treated.
Today’s author: Mark Henderson—husband, father, and founder of The Inspired Legacy.