This cat and cat owner have learned how to live out the saying, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours!” The owner scratches the cat’s back first and then the cat obligingly does the same for her! What could be better than having your own in-house masseur? This saying came from sailors in the 17th century. When crew members were told to flog one another for an offense, they would sometimes do it lightly, only “scratching” the back, in hopes of being treated the same way.
Today’s verse points out that only loving those who will love you in return is not so admirable. Greeting only those who will greet you back is no big risk. Even those who do not follow Christ do as much. The believer is held to a higher standard. Jesus tells us to love our enemies (verse 44) which means loving those who will not respond in kind. We are not to do for others in order to receive something in return. We are to love and even pray for those who treat us poorly.
Our world does not work this way. There are expectations and obligations that come from gifts and favors. But as a believer I am to show love that is unconditional and not dependent on someone’s response. It is not always easy to ignore the lack of a thank-you note or a return dinner invitation. However, the Lord delights in rewarding and blessing my obedience. Knowing this frees me up to give and give again without any strings attached.
Lord, make my love for others like Yours is for me!