Today’s Reading: Luke 6:20-49
Do you remember Opposite Day in school? Or perhaps you celebrate National Opposite Day every January 25th, a day when people say Good Morning instead of Goodnight or Goodbye instead of Hello. Opposite Day is intended to be a fun day for everyone to say the opposite of what they mean.
After reading through Luke, I have decided that Jesus would have liked Opposite Day. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus teaches using several different opposites: Poor or. rich, hungry or prosperous, laughter or sorrow. He also surprised the crowd by telling them to love their enemies, to celebrate persecution, and to forgive rather than judge. He compared a tree that bears bad fruit with a tree that bears good fruit, and he compared the house built on rock to the house built on sand.
As you read through this passage, look for the opposites or the stark contrasts Jesus describes. Then, as you go through your day, recognize the crazy opposite moments God puts before you – moments when you could have reacted to the rude woman at the cash register but you chose kindness; moments when you could have been in a hurry but you chose to slow down and greet someone; moments when you chose to laugh instead of cry.
God, prepare us for what may lie ahead of us today that requires us to declare Opposite Day! May today’s OPPOSITES ATTRACT others to you!
Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,
“God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.
God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied.
God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.
“What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.
“What sorrow awaits you who are rich,
for you have your only happiness now.
What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now,
for a time of awful hunger awaits you.
What sorrow awaits you who laugh now,
for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow.
What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds,
for their ancestors also praised false prophets.
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” – Luke 6:20-49
Now here is a moment when Jesus was saying not to do the opposite. When we come to Him and listen to His teaching, He wants us to follow it. So why do we sometimes do the opposite of what we know we are supposed to do?
Father God, please forgive us for those moments when we do not act like we should. Forgive us for those moments when we do not follow your teaching but do what we feel like doing in the moment. Lord, fill us with your Spirit and strengthen us so that we can follow your lead in every moment of our day today. May the opposites in our day attract others as they recognize the difference you are making in our life. Amen.