Tag Archives: turn the other cheek

It’s Not Ridiculous (Luke 6)

It’s tempting to read these passages for the umpteenth time and overlook something God might want to say to us about it. That almost happened to me this morning. I was reading what God said about loving our enemies. You know it, right? Love them, do good to them, turn the other cheek. Yada Yada Yada.

My mind kept going to the climate in our nation here in 2020. Sadly, the term “enemy” has come to mean a person who simply disagrees with you; someone who is from a different political party than you; someone who supports a different side of the abortion issue. There are those who would like us to believe we should look at people with different skin color than our’s, or in a different tax bracket than us as the enemy.

And how do we treat our enemies these days? We burn down their businesses. Pull out a gun and shoot them. Beat them up. Slander them. Hate them.

The idea of turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, giving the shirts off our backs, loving our enemies and doing good to them is scoffed at. It’s weak! It’s ridiculous!

Did you know that Jesus gave us the Golden Rule as part of His message on how to treat our enemies? Yeah. Our enemies.

Now here is what I almost missed this morning. I believe God wanted me to see a short phrase in verse 36:.

because he (God) is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

Really? You might think that’s not at all right. God should destroy mean people, ungrateful wretches! Instead, Jesus tells us God is kind to them. Ridiculous?

Oh, it get’s better. After Jesus tells us this, he turns to us and says…

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Now wait a minute, God. If you want to be kind and merciful that’s up to you. But how can you expect me to be kind and merciful to these thugs, these degenerates, these people who call me names and threaten my safety?

“Because I said so,” He seems to answer me.

I challenge you to read this portion of God’s Word, and check your kindness meter. Is it reserved only for people with whom you agree? Do you have the attitude, “I’ll be kind to them IF they are kind to me? I’ll show mercy IF they show it to me first?”

Do you see an “IF” in God’s command to us to be merciful? I sure don’t.

Jesus tells us if we obey Him in this, “Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” He’s not saying we earn our position as His child by being nice to people. But He is saying that if we obey Him, people will notice and will identify us with Jesus, will recognize that we belong to God.

That’s not ridiculous!

January 22; Live At Peace

Have you ever seen someone’s response to something, or read something in the Bible and thought, “Boy, if that had been me I’d have…?” That’s kind of how I felt as I read about Isaac and the wells he dug.

First of all, I am reminded that Isaac wasn’t there by choice. There was a famine, and the king told him to get out of Dodge. “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” So Isaac packs up and leaves. Just like that.

It’s got to be hard moving all those people and animals and everything you own. They’d been traveling for a while. They needed water. They dug a well.

But the neighbors declared their rights to the water. So Isaac packed everyone up again and moved to another location, dug another well, and had to face the protesters once again. “We’ve got our rights! This is our water.”

So Isaac moves AGAIN! Come on, Isaac, grow a backbone.

Why didn’t Isaac stand up for his rights? Why did he let the king and the people push him around? He had the Big Guns on his side, didn’t he? God was on his side, for crying out loud.

As I was thinking about this this morning I was reminded of Romans 12:17-19. Listen to what God has to say to us through his servant Paul:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it  is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written; “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Absolutely there is a time to stand up for what is right. There are plenty of examples in Scripture of God’s people fighting the enemy. Jesus Himself wasn’t afraid to get in the face of someone who was sinning, to overturn tables when necessary.

The Church may be taking this idea of living at peace with everyone too far. But there is also a danger of turning everything into a battle. If God tells us to live at peace with everyone you can, then do it!

That means living at peace with abortion doctors, homosexuals, adulterers, and liars. Do you think you are likely to win someone to the Lord by hating them, or by fighting them, or by waving your Bible in their faces while shouting John 3:16?

Living at peace means feeding hungry people, giving water to thirsty people. (Romans 12:20) It means offering the Bread of Life and the Living Water to people who are dying in their sin.

I don’t believe Scripture is telling us that to live in peace in this world requires getting pushed around or mistreated, as much as it tells us to love the people who are pushing us around and mistreating us.

Can we stand for the Truth in love? Can we?

I Samuel 19; It Takes Two To Tango

Saul had one goal in life, and it totally consumed him. He wanted David dead more than anything. David, on the other hand, had nothing against Saul. If David had his way, the two would be friends.

Throughout their story we will see Saul do many means things to David. But we won’t see David return evil for evil.

I would say that during the 23 years I was a middle school counselor, the majority of my time was spent dealing with adolescent friendships. More than anything academic, relationships were far and away the number one thing on the minds of those children. Most of the time a child’s instinct was to strike back at someone who they felt wronged them.

“She started it.”

“He hit me first.”

“She said something about my mom.”

“He was talking about me.

And somehow, in their minds those things seemed to justify their own bad behavior. I would often quote Romans 12:21 to them:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Most of the time they’d look at me like I had grown antlers or something.

Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to pray for those who are mean to us. (Matt 5:44) Easier said than done, because I don’t think revenge is a concept exclusive to adolescents.

Have you heard the phrase, “It takes two to tango”? It takes two of you to have a battle. If one of you refuse to fight back, it isn’t a fight.

Saul heard that David was in Naioth. So the king sent some of his men to go get David. But when Saul’s men got there, they walked into a church service instead of a battle. They joined the church service.

So Saul sent another band of thugs to capture David. And when these men observed David and the people praising God, they praised God, too

This must have been quite the church service because Saul sent a third group of men to do the deed. The third group of men? They dropped their weapons and raised their hands in worship, too.

“Ok. Enough of this,” Saul must have thought. “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.” So with every intention of taking care of David himself, he marched into Naioth, probably spitting nails.

Something happened to Saul, though, when he saw the Spirit of God moving among the people. At least for the time being, he forgot his mission of evil, and began prophesying too, by the Holy Spirit.

Saul had expected to go to battle with David. David refused to go to battle with Saul. And at least for the moment, good did overcome evil, and David’s life was spared.

Matthew Henry said David was delivered, not as he’d delivered his lambs by killing lions, but by turning lions into lambs.

I like that idea.

Do you want to get rid of an enemy? Start by being nice to him or her. You might even turn them into a friend.  It’s not impossible.

It’s Scriptural.

 

May 17 – Keeping the Course

2 Samuel 16-18

Shimei was not a fan. When King David’s son Absalom decided to steal the kingdom from his dad, Shimei followed Absalom. Out with the old, in with the new, he may have been thinking.

Maybe it was a little like our modern world. I mean, old people like the old hymns. Let’s be progressive and bring in the bands. Old people believe in hard work and earning what you have. Let’s let the government just give us what we want. Out with the old… I digress.

Or do I?

All of us with differing opinions can learn from David’s example. Shimei was throwing stones, calling David names, trying to get people riled up against David by following the king around and advocating for David’s enemy.

Now, if this were a presidential debate, David would pick up a few stones himself and hurl them at Shimei. He’d think of meaner names to call Shimei, maybe even have some choice words to say about Shimei’s wife. David would probably demand Shimei be removed from his presence, or killed for disrespecting him.

But instead, David said; “Let him be” and the king kept walking. Shimei kept hurling stones but David kept the course.

I’m afraid we’ve come to believe life is a reality TV show. We so often get caught up in the drama. The truth is, we don’t have to react every time someone “disrespects” us, or disagrees with us, taunts us, or even lies about us.

That’s not to say we lie down and play dead, either. David didn’t just hand the kingdom over to Absalom because Shimei was treating him badly. Jesus said we were to turn the other cheek. But Jesus also overturned the tables in the temple.

Christian, when people say we are hate-filled bigots, let’s not prove them right by our response. Let’s, like David, refuse to get into a war of words. Instead, let’s keep the course. Remember, our enemies are not homosexuals, abortionists, murderers, or liars. Our enemy is Satan.

Jesus died for sinners. Let’s not forget that. Satan would have us lose focus and fight insignificant battles. My prayer is that we will keep our eyes on Jesus, that we will honor Him with our reactions as well as our actions.

And I pray that, as we keep the course, people will be drawn to the Savior.