Because of God’s Love for You, Love Your Enemies
These are the readings for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany.
God’s Word for This Week
Joseph’s brothers were terrified out of their minds (Genesis 45:3) when they realized that Joseph, their brother was alive. He was the prime minister of Egypt! He could pay them back for all the evil they had done to him. But Joseph treated his undeserving brothers with love. How will we treat our enemies?
Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 45:3-8a,15
What were Joseph’s reasons for his brothers not to be distressed over the evil they had done to him years earlier (45:5,7,8a)?
Joseph’s brothers were not to be distressed because God had sent Joseph down to Egypt. He had done so to save many lives, including Joseph’s own brothers’ lives.
What did Joseph do to show his love and forgiveness toward his brothers (45:15)?
Joseph kissed all his brothers (after especially hugging his full brother, Benjamin, in 45:14) and wept over them.
Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 15:35-38a,42-49
When Jesus raises us bodily from the dead, will we look about the same as before (15:35-38)?
No, we will not be simply revived corpses or frightening zombies. We will have new bodies. We will be like plants. You sow a seed, and it comes up a new plant: something of the same stuff as the seed but also quite different from the seed.
Adam came first, at creation, and Jesus came after Adam, from Adam. How do they together teach us about our own resurrection (45-49)?
We belong to both Adam and Jesus, so we have been like Adam. He came from the ground. Our bodies will return, via decay, to the ground. But as surely as Jesus rose bodily, we will too.
Supplemental Second Lesson – Romans 12:14-21
If God had no part in the harm others cause us, how would that change our response to those people (12:16-18)?
If God were not behind all that happens to us, we would lash out at God when others harmed us and try to get back at our enemies. But if God is behind all that seems to harm us and means it for our good, we trust that doing good to our enemies is also going to work out for the best.
Why shouldn’t we take revenge when others mistreat us? (Wouldn’t that work better? Sometimes God seems so slow!)
We must not take revenge against others because a) God says we must not, and b) because God promises he will do so. (God’s timing and his ways will often perplex us, but Evelyn Underhill is right: “If God were small enough to be understood, he wouldn’t be big enough to be worshiped.”)
Gospel – Luke 6:27-38
What will it mean, practically, to love our enemies (6:27-30)?
To love our enemies will mean, practically, that we will do good to them (6:28). We will say good and helpful things about them when they said harmful things about us (6:29a). We will pray for them (6:29b). We will be generous to people who are unlikely to return the favor, and we will not necessarily demand our enemies fix their unfair actions toward us (6:30).
Wouldn’t it be enough to be nice to people who are nice to us (6:35-36)?
It is not enough just to be nice to those who treat us well. Jesus tells us that even notoriously bad people do such things. If we want to be like our Father, we are to be kind to the ungrateful and the wicked (6:35). We are to be as merciful as our Father (6:36).
God will judge us the way we judge others. What four directions does Jesus give us, in that case (6:37-38)?
Jesus says, a) do not be judgmental or glad that others are guilty before God without urging them to turn to God; b) do not condemn others from a proud heart; c) forgive others, and d) be generous. Our Father promises to be generous to his generous children.