Luke 6:35-36 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and the evil. Be therefore merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Before I can get into the meat of this text I have to look at some definitions real quick:
MERCIFUL: Greek Cognate: #3629 οἰκτίρμων (oiktírmōn – an adjective, “express visceral-compassions”) – compassionate, experiencing deep pity and lamentation as God has for people who look to Him for help in their difficult situations.
VISCERAL: (adjective) coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason
Therefore, we are told to be viscerally compassionate from the heart, just as God is viscerally compassionate from the heart!
Nothing except the call to the cross demands greater faith and necessitates greater love for God than Jesus’ call to this unfailing, unmerited, and merciful love. Certainly no other commandment confronts us with our own human inability more than Jesus’ commandment to supernatural-love.
HOW CAN I express visceral compassions towards even my enemies when I find in my heart only apathy, distrust, ill-will, or even hate? God’s word tells you that you can’t; only the Holy Spirit working in you can take your cold heart and make it burn with compassion for even your enemies (Galatians 5:22)! Whoever tries to produce this kind of love in their heart by the strength and will of their own flesh will meet failure time and time again (Romans 8:4-9; cf. 13:8, 10).
Am I then acquitted from any and all responsibility to be merciful as God is merciful? Let me quote Paul by saying “By no means!”
Because of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you – if you are born of the Spirit – you are doubly responsible!
Let me encourage you not to embrace the lie that says “love is only action and does not include emotions at all”. Love is to be unhypocritical (Romans 12:9) – which means “unfeigned and sincere”. Love must not be only an intellectual exercise that leaves the heart behind, wallowing in bitterness against those you are trying to love!
A believer may ask “what do I do if my heart does not feel love like this towards my enemies?” Do not be content to continue in heartless love! Cry out to God; weep and mourn for your heartless condition! But “love in action” all the while. Yes – if your heart does not “feel” love, then you must lead your heart by the truth of God’s word and repent before God that your heart remains so unregenerate. God will renew your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit and create in you the fruit of love.
I cannot make my heart express visceral compassions for others when all my heart possesses is selfishness, apathy, and enmity! If you despair of your inability to love due to the coldness of your heart, then you need the renewal of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit! Turn away from the temptation to accomplish this by your own strength and look to Christ to create in you a pure heart!
You must fight the desire to become content with your lovelessness; love your enemies and your brethren in action, and cry out to God to renew your heart so that you can also love in truth!
Once you begin seeking God to renew your heart in love He will begin to send opportunities to love your enemies, neighbors, and brethren to you; I call these “opportunities” because God has shown me that they are truly opportunities, but they may look like trials and tribulations at first. Arm yourself with the mind of Christ (please read Philippians 2:5-10), and prepare to walk by faith through these trials and exercise love in action while you cry out to God to renew your heart so that you can likewise love in truth.