Jesus told us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, to pray for those who use us spitefully, and to do good to those who hate us (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28). It’s a simple concept, but the practicality of it?…not so simple. I’ve had grown women tell me, “I’m sorry, Cindy. I just can’t do anything good for that woman!” Even right now, I’m thinking of a sister, who said this to me only a few days ago, adding “You just don’t know all the things that I know about her. You would not understand.”
I may not know all about her, but I know one thing about her. Christ died for her. That’s enough to know that I can, if I really want to, put all of the offenses toward me in a file somewhere marked “forgiven” or “prayer list” while I use all my creative ideas to come up with a plan for doing whatever good thing I can for the sister whose heart needs a softening.
Sometimes a heart-softening comes when a sister (or brother) looks up and finds a sweet card on his/her desk from the co-worker he/she so recklessly “chewed out” the day before. Sometimes not. Sometimes a heart softening comes when a pretty bouquet of flowers arrives at the door of the sister who intentionally left you off the guest list for the baby shower of her daughter; the daughter you attempted to teach some difficult Biblical truths back when she was in your Sunday School class. Sometimes not. Sometimes the softening comes when you go to the rehab center and help change the bandages on a sister who once called you “irresponsible” or “self-centered” or “holier-than -thou.” Sometimes not. You know who the sister is in your world.
The “sometimes-not” part is what makes it so very difficult to do what Jesus said. Sometimes I am afraid of what the reaction will be when I reach out to someone who has consistently slighted me. She may yell at me again or ignore my gesture. She may even say “Yep. There you go again, being the hypocrite that you always are.”
But you know, Jesus didn’t say pray for your enemies who will react positively. He just told us to pray for them. He didn’t say bless those who are cursing you now, but who have the propensity to become tender toward you again. He just told us to bless them. He didn’t say do something good for the woman who hates you, IF you think there’s hope for reconciliation. He just told us to do good to those who hate us.
Have you ever thought about how that each time someone in the body really mistreats you, you are given this amazing “extra” chance to show God how much you love Him? It’s true. See, we show our love for the Lord by obeying Him (John 14:15). But if we obey Him only when the command is what we really want to do anyway–what is convenient or fun to do–we really are not obeying Him. We are doing what we want to do. When we do the hard stuff, the stuff that makes us uncomfortable, the stuff that we’d rather have a root canal than do….ahh, that’s when we really obey. And in the process of that kind of obedience, we grow to be more and more like Jesus, the Lord, who willingly did THE most uncomfortable thing at Calvary–for us.
In the process of exchanging blessing for cursing you will heap coals of fire on the head of the offender. And, sometimes, you will see a change in the heart of the enemy, the user, or the curser. Once in a while, the enemy will become a friend, the user will evolve into a supporter and the one who cursed may learn to bless.
See, it really doesn’t matter if I win the battle over the promotion, the insult, the social slight or whatever the catalyst might have been. If I can successfully soften a heart to the Will of the Lord, I have won the war. And the offender is not defeated. The devil got the blow!
You’ve got this!…And it comes with so many blessings!