Sunday, July 21, 2013

Turn the other cheek! What?

If you have ever felt like retaliation was the best means of attack in a particular situation, you are probably not alone.  Many of us struggle with responding as Jesus instructed - turning the other cheek.  What does that actually mean anyway?  How on earth does turning around so another blow can come your way seem fair anyway?  Ahhh...there's the ultimate question - why should we do it - it isn't FAIR?  Guess what?  Not everything in life is FAIR!  I figured that out by my fifth birthday and it is a lesson I have had to keep reminding myself of ever since!  The truth is - God doesn't look at how "fair" the circumstances are, he looks at how we treat another when the circumstances aren't going our way!

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.  (I Peter 3:9 NLT)

Fairness deals with sets of judgments - on our part and the part of everyone else involved in the situation.  We each have our own "perception" or "perspective" on what we see as "fair".  For some, fairness is when everything seems to be equitable - a WIN-WIN situation.  For others, fairness seems to be determined by them getting the biggest piece of the pie because somehow they see themselves as "deserving" it.  It is a reward for something they have done!  All of these views of "fairness" are just a little off the mark, though.

In God's economy, we are told not to judge.  Fairness is based on "judgments" we make all the time.  You get the bigger piece of pie - that isn't fair.  You get the raise when we have all worked on the project - that isn't fair.  You get the last word in - that isn't fair.  We go along making all kinds of "judgments" about what is fair without really having the right perspective to make these judgments.  Truth be told - only God knows the whole story, so we should let him figure it out!

In all of life, God calls for us to not live by the rule of "fairness", but by the rule of "grace".  We are to live grace-based lives - giving others better than what they deserve - better than we may have received ourselves.  This is tough work!  We are constantly having to battle against allowing someone else's behavior to dictate how we are going to act or respond!  Whenever we allow another's behavior to dictate our response - we are no longer operating in "grace".  

Are you someone who "keeps score"?  You know, you get the smaller piece of pie two nights in a row, and you keep score of just how often it happens.  In time, you form some type of little root of bitterness based on the fact you always seem to get the smaller piece!  In time, the little root gets to be a big problem!  If we were to be honest, we keep score because we don't want anyone else getting away with things!  Thank goodness God doesn't keep score!  I'd never make it if he did!

If I can say anything which may set us free from this whole issue of keeping score, always trying to figure out whether life is fair - it would be this:  Jesus is after our OWN issues and attitudes - not the other person's!  That may hit us smack between the eyes, but it is the truth.  We have a lot to learn about this "grace-based" living, but we have a great model to follow - Jesus. Relationships are at their best when we put something into them, not when we are always trying to get something out of them!  Jesus always focused on those around him, not himself.  

I am grateful for the grace of God in my life.  In fact, I hope to replicate that grace in others.  The one thing we can do to accomplish this "grace replication" is to allow God to dictate our attitudes and actions in the face of what seems "unfair" or "unjust" to us.  Instead of constantly keeping score, we let it go.  Instead of responding in like kind as we have been treated, we love and respond in kindness.  It will confuse the other guy entirely when you respond in this way, but it will delight Jesus immensely!  Just sayin!

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