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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bless your enemy?

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" (Martin Luther King, Jr) It is far easier for us to complain about what another has not done for us than it is to admit we may have done very little for them! It isn't that all of life is give and take - you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. It is us giving without restraint - regardless of the return we might receive on that "investment" of service. Jesus never said we were to look for a reward in our actions as much as he said we should perform the actions "worthy" of reward.

Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them. (Luke 6:31 VOICE)

Too many times we focus on what others need to be doing for us - what we believe we deserve becomes dominant in our lives.  It is a strange thing for us to think outside of ourselves at times - because after all, we were born thinking about self first above all. It seems the "nature" we are born with has to be "nurtured" out of us a little so that we begin to look beyond self and truly see others are part of the bigger picture!  Daniel Webster said, "What a man does for others, not what they do for him, gives him immortality."  Jesus tells us to think "beyond" ourselves - truly seeing the need of those around us and then finding ways to meet that need with a heart focused on blessing them fully and completely.


It is amazing how quickly we can identify our own need and then set things in motion to see that need met in some way.  It may not always be the best way, but in our eyes it is being met nonetheless.  I guess a good many of us might just have an issue with actually admitting our needs to others - either because it scares us to have someone see us as needy, or we aren't sure they will meet the need in a way we really desire.  It is much easier for us to bottle those needs up until we can somehow meet them ourselves.  How's that been working for you?  I know it never really worked well for me - despite all my best efforts to do so, I failed miserably at doing for myself what another would have done much better if actually given the chance!

It is good to get the full story on what Christ was saying in our passage today.  His mission is to somehow reveal what life with Christ at the center is to be.  Here's the context to what he summarized above:  "If you’re listening, here’s My message: Keep loving your enemies no matter what they do. Keep doing good to those who hate you.  Keep speaking blessings on those who curse you. Keep praying for those who mistreat you.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer the other cheek too. If someone steals your coat, offer him your shirt too. If someone begs from you, give to him. If someone robs you of your valuables, don’t demand them back."  (vs. 27-30)  Then he sums it up with, "Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them." 

Enemies, those who hate and curse us - those who mistreat us - they are not the subject of our Lord's teaching here.  We are!  He wants us to learn to "counter" their attacks with love, not retaliation.  It is a truly amazing thing to go beyond one's own desire to blessed and to become a blessing when another least deserves it.  What Jesus is reminding us about is this misconception of blessing being for those who are a blessing to us.  He is showing us the greatest blessing we can give is that which is least deserved - and it will also be the hardest blessing for us to give!  It is the thing we would want were we in the same situation. Make no bones about it - learning to serve others in such a manner is not an easy task - but it is oh so rewarding!  Just sayin!