Love this little message…
Late one summer evening in, a weary truck driver pulled his articulated lorry into the all-night lorry park at the M1 Watford Gap service station. The waitress had just served him his supper when three tough looking, leather jacketed Hells Angels motorcyclists – walked in, came over to his table and began to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, one grabbed the hamburger off his plate, another took a handful of his chips, and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it. He ignored them and finished his meal. Then he calmly got up, put his money and bill on the cash register, and went out of the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching at the door as the big truck drove away into the night. When she returned, one of the bikers said to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?” She replied, “I don’t know about that, but he sure ain’t much of a truck driver either. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out.”
Sounds like justice, doesn’t it? When someone wrongs us, our first instinct is to get them back! Our first instinct is to make them hurt as much as they hurt us. It’s instinctive when we are wronged. And it starts at an early age. The author Judith Viorst wrote a children’s book entitled “I’ll Fix Anthony” published by Aladdin. It’s the story of two brothers, Nicholas and Anthony. Nicholas, the younger brother complains about the way his older brother Anthony treats him: “My brother Anthony can read books now, but he won’t read any books to me. He plays checkers with Bruce from his school. But when I want to play he says, “Go away or I’ll clobber you.” I let him wear my Snoopy sweatshirt, but he never lets me borrow his sword. Mother says deep down in his heart Anthony loves me. Anthony says deep down in his heart he thinks I stink. Mother says deep deep down in his heart, where he doesn’t even know it, Anthony loves me. Anthony says deep deep down in his heart he still thinks I stink. When I’m six I’ll fix Anthony …. Anthony is chasing me out of the playroom. He says I stink. He says he is going to clobber me. I have to run now, but I won’t have to run when I’m six. When I’m six, I’ll fix Anthony. Nicholas imagines that when he is six, he will have his revenge against Anthony. He believes he will jump higher, run faster, swim better, and be braver. Too bad for Anthony. But for now, Nicholas must run, because Anthony is going to clobber him.
The truth is that we grow up thinking about all the people who have clobbered us and get some quiet satisfaction from hurting them back. And it’s a reaction even found among refined ladies. Charlotte Bronte suffered a traumatic upbringing at the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge, Lancashire. In her novel, Jane Eyre, she recreates her experience in the legendary Lowood School. Through the lips of the young Jane, who also endures physical abuse “without a reason”, Charlotte Bronte offers her philosophy of life “We should strike back again very hard: I am sure we should – so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.” Recently, letters have come to light written to Charlotte by her former head teacher, the Revd William Carus-Wilson. He did not take the veiled attack lightly, threatening to sue his most famous former pupil.
And that’s the trouble with revenge. It is like a black hole. It’s never ending. And that’s why Jesus’ teaching is so radical – so revolutionary – so counter-cultural – so humanly impossible.
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
In this passage taken from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lays out the foundational truths of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Notice this is not advice. This is not a recommendation, not an opinion, not a suggestion, not even a plea. It is a command. It’s a command Jesus often repeats. How can I love my enemies? Jesus tells us we must take three steps to love our enemies and bring good out of evil.
Do good to those who hate you.
Its not hard to imagine how these words were as revolutionary when Jesus first uttered them as they are today. What will it mean for you? Maybe offering to mow the lawn of a hateful neighbour; Maybe volunteering to fill in for the mean-spirited co-worker who drives you crazy; Perhaps being helpful to an ex-spouse. Perhaps providing for a parent who was mean to you when you were a child. This is what it means to do good to those who hate you. Now there are some side effects you need to be aware of. If you obey Jesus, you’ll be surprised by the freedom you soon feel from not being enslaved to the anger you feel towards those who’ve been mean to you.
2. Bless those who curse you.
When we retaliate verbally its like throwing petrol on a fire. Instead Jesus says bless them. What does the word ‘bless’ mean? The word ‘bless’ or Eulogeo gives us the English word eulogise. Its actually a contraction of two Greek words – Eu means ‘good’ and logos means ‘word’. Put the two together and Jesus is saying we must have a good word for those who do not have a good word for us. Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Most of us would probably have fewer enemies if we learned how to speak in a way that built people up instead of tearing them down. The next time you meet someone who just ticks you off, think of a kind word or deed you can share. And you’ll be surprised at how good it feels and perhaps even by the way the person reacts.
3. Pray for those who those who ill-treat you.
Have you discovered that those people who mistreat you have a way of dominating your thoughts? You just can’t get them out of your mind. Have you ever been there before? I can think of many times when people have wronged me. Instead of moving on I dwell on what they said to me or did to me. Negative thoughts about other people just make me more miserable and paralyse me. Jesus has a solution. Turn insult into intercession. Pray for those who ill-treat you. Now before you get excited, Jesus isn’t talking about praying for our enemy to get run over by a truck. We are to pray that their hearts and ours be softened, be changed, be reconciled. Praying for your enemies will actually keep you from being destroyed by bitterness and anger.
Leonardo Da Vinci once had a terrible falling out with a fellow artist just before he began work on the “Last Supper.” The story is told that he determined to paint his enemy as Judas. It was a perfect likeness. Then, he began painting the likeness of Jesus. No matter how hard he tried, nothing seemed to please him. Finally, he realized that he could not paint the portrait of Jesus as long as his enemy had been painted into Judas’s place. Once that was corrected, then the face of Jesus came easily. Neither can you paint the face of Jesus in your life unless you repent of any bitterness in your heart toward others. So, take Jesus at his word and trust Him to help you love your enemies into friends. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who ill-treat you.
Stephen Sizer (source)