Luke 6:27-38 (NRSV)
Verse 27"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, Verse 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Verse 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Verse 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Verse 31Do to others as you would have them do to you. Verse 32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. Verse 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. Verse 34If 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. Verse 35But 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. Verse 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Verse 37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; Verse 38give, 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."
When Jesus teaches his followers the Golden Rule, his familiarity with the human heart leads him to start with the—relatively speaking—easy steps, concrete acts. If anyone strikes you, offer the other cheek. If anyone takes your coat, offer your shirt. Give to those who beg from you.
But he recognizes that such acts do not necessarily rise from love. A person filled with hate can perform deeds that only appear to be charitable. What looks like kindness may even be intended for ill—for example, to shame those with outstretched hands or to ensure their long-term indebtedness to us.
So, Jesus quickly turns to our attitudes, our inner being. Do not judge; do not condemn. Rather, give. Let heart, soul, and mind be filled with the love and forgiveness we receive from our merciful God. Such a God-given center will yield deep understanding and true compassion for our neighbor's need.
O Lord Jesus, make us instruments of your peace, granting that we may struggle to understand. Amen.