I’m focused. I’m determined. I’m confident that I’ll meet my deadline as I type away on my computer in my home office. All of the sudden a most- annoying high decibel shriek from my 11 year old daughter Lily breaks my concentration.
“What the hell just happened?” I angrily bellow in reply as I leap from my chair to access the situation. (Yes, sometimes I say “hell.” Shoot me now.)
“Luke hit me!” “Yeah, but she hit me first! I was just getting even.” It’s an all-too-common scenario.
“I was just getting even.” Hmm.
This reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:39, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek so he can strike you on that one too!” In other words, just lovingly stand there and take it without retaliating. Really? Wow! What does Jesus mean by this?
He means that, in the same way that it’s unacceptable to me for my son to retaliate by hitting his sister back… so also it’s unacceptable to my Heavenly Father for me to retaliate when, for example, someone cuts me off on the freeway.
By the way, “just getting even” is the natural thing to do.
Here’s the rub: As true Christians we’re not called to do what is natural, but rather what is supernatural! In other words, when mistreated we’re called to respond with mercy and forgiveness. (This really is possible through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by virtue of our faith.)
Jesus went on to say that we’re to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. But why should we? I’ll answer that question with the following: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘bad’ people know how to do that. Rather, love those who mistreat you. Be merciful and forgiving so that you prove yourself to be a child of God!”
Those are Jesus’ words in Luke 6. If you call yourself a true Christian, then you are the very agent of His love, mercy, and forgiveness in the community! He shows such attributes through you, because His Spirit dwells in you.
Has Luke arrived yet by responding in love? Nope. He’s still a work-in- progress, like me. But thank God that by His grace I’m a little farther along than when I was his age.
~ Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 22 years and have three children age 12 years and under. Jacob (12), Lily (11), and Luke (9). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 11 years and love Harley motorcycles and good music. They pastor Escondido’s very own Sanctuary Church.