“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
One of the greatest indications of your maturity as a disciple of Jesus is your treatment of others when they mistreat you. It is the most natural thing in the world to treat others based on how they are treating you. It’s standard to scratch someone’s back if they scratch yours, or to “even the score” if they do you wrong. “Tit for tat” is the way of the world.
What marks our maturity in Christ is our change from being ruled by the flesh (i.e. the way of the world) to being ruled by the Spirit (i.e. the way of the kingdom of God). So then, as Paul wrote in the passage above, it is rare enough for people to sacrifice themselves for others who are good, but how incredibly rare it is for someone to sacrifice himself for an enemy!
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Imagine if our Father and His Son conferred together and decided that they would move forward with the incarnation and redemption once mankind got their act together and figured out how to be righteous. We’d still be waiting for Jesus to come the first time! If they had waited for us to get it right, we’d never be able to get it right. It was their gracious initiative while we were enslaved to sin that allowed us to become free from it.
We are grateful for this willingness on God’s part, Disciple, but we must also be willing to imitate it. “Even while [fill in the blank] is still a [liar, coward, jerk, gossip, cheater, backstabber, etc.], I will do what’s good for them.” Why? Because they deserve it? Certainly not! It is because they need it, and love is, by its very nature, committed to meeting the needs of others.
Don’t wait until the other person gets their act together to do what’s loving and sacrificial, Disciple. God didn’t wait for us to get ours together. “Love your enemies” may be one of the hardest commands that our Master has issued, but it is one of the most powerful when obeyed. The choice to do what is best for another when they are still in their sin is a choice to be like Jesus and please Him immensely! What better choice can a disciple make?
Learning to do for others what was done for me,