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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, February 20, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 6:27–38

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (NRSV)

Context matters.

Let’s not reduce today’s devotion as source documentation for the oft-cited “turn the other cheek;”the message here is deeper, more penetrant, more disquieting. See the preceding scripture, Luke 6:20–26. Jesus lovingly envelopes the poor and the hungry but then admonishes the privileged.

As Howard Thurman wrote in Jesus and the Disinherited, Jesus is the champion for “those with their backs against the wall.” When interpreted in the context of the disinherited, today’s message becomes more exacting. When treated hatefully, would you respond with love? Generosity? Nonviolence? Really? The events in the scripture occurred in Tyre and Sidon millennia ago, but for certain occurred in the South sixty years ago and in Chicago today.

Do we not see the disinherited every day? If we only search the streets, we fail to see the despair in our midst. How do we treat the disinherited? Have you been the target of hate? Invectives? Mistreatment? I have. Repeatedly. Have you ever deselected the disinherited and found refuge in a more comfortable social network? I have. Have I ever judged others? Yep.

This Christian life is not intended for ease and comfort. Our sojourn requires more than a visceral feeling, more than a cognitive decision. It insists upon a committed soul, deeply, as it is the depth of our soul from which comes our greatest strength. We are required to be merciful to the ungrateful, kind to the wicked, forgiving, generous, and nonjudgmental. Pause—if you read our devotionals in the morning as I do, I just ruined your day . . . kinda.

But inspiration is possible. See verse 38—consider “measure,” not as verb but as a noun: “a standard of comparison or judgment.” Now reread verse 38. Let us then seek the great reward, let us be merciful. Simply put, let us love, and in so doing, we will experience that shower of judgment, the good standard, the best measure of our soul.

Dear God,
may we always listen to the voices unheard,
may we always see the disinherited,
may we always sense benevolence,
may we live merciful lives where,
“Judgment runs down as waters
and righteousness as a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24, KJV) Amen.

Written by Clyde Yancy, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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