What sets disciples of Jesus Christ apart from all others. The answer is simple, but not easy. Love those who hate and despise you. Show mercy to those who want to destroy you.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Luke 6:32-36 states: “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. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Matthew 5:43-48 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (fellow man) and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your brothers [wishing them God’s blessing and peace], what more [than others] are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles [who do not know the Lord] do that? You, therefore, will be perfect [actively growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character] as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus took the punishment we deserved. We focus on ourselves first: what we need and what we want. Jesus put himself at risk for others. He was crucified on the cross for others.
Romans 3: 22-25 The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
It is easy to care for those who care for you. It is easy to show respect to those who you have a business relationship with. What is difficult is to demonstrate mercy and kindness to those who only put themselves first. Your first inclination is to do the same. He wants something, but I want it more. What’s in it for me.
Philippians: 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have you ever heard the saying that you should bring a gun to a knife fight? The concept is simple. If your enemy brings a weapon to a fight, you bring a better more powerful weapon. What Jesus is saying is the most powerful weapon you have available to you is merciful kindness. It can be disarming. It can make them think twice. Jesus is saying is if you bring a gun to a knife fight, all you are doing is escalating the power play. Jesus does not want us to escalate a fight.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.