By Mike Stickler
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
It was over 20 years ago, when I first observed the duplicity that envelops us Christians. We say we love the Lord, yet often our hearts reflect something significantly different.
On a specific occasion, several women from a local battered women’s shelter had come to our church to participate in baby dedications. Their appearance clearly demonstrated they had little money; but, they looked genuinely excited to be there that day and to be able to celebrate with us, their adopted church family. One of the moms talked a bit long in her excitement ... and I heard a woman just in front of me say under her breath something like, “I wish we wouldn’t let ‘those people’ in here.” Or there’s my friend, who did not grow up with the benefit of a stable life. Instead, he was raised in the drug culture of America. As a young adult, his life was full of multiple sordid relationships, methamphetamines, and motorcycles. I met him shortly after he came to the Lord where I had the privilege of discipling him. I’ve now known him over 15 years and I know few people who love Jesus as much as he does. But, also, in the years I’ve known him, he’s had a very difficult time fitting in to a typical church.
It seems that finding a church—filled with those who genuinely and honestly love ‘those people’—is rare.
But Jesus tells us in these verses that greeting only those who greet you, or loving only those who love you expresses no generosity at all. (My words!) May I ask, who are ‘those people?’ Can you describe them? Or are they just the people who look different, act a bit more peculiar, or just overall make us uncomfortable? Be honest—to some, can’t you or I be included in those categories? To some, aren’t you or I one of ‘those people?’ I pray that the Lord would break our hard hearts and in return giving us a heart generous to ‘those people.’ This way we may be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (v 48).
Today’s Generosity Challenge:
This challenge will be a hard one.
In your quiet time today, ask the Lord to reveal to you ‘those people’ whom you may have set aside or apart in your life. Then ask Him to help you develop a plan to be more generous towards them. Be specific and write down your plan and your action to implement it here below.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, and a highly sought after motivational speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column.