Tuesday, January 6, 2015

love for enemies

Luke 6:27-36  (NLT) - Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

Ephesians 4:1-3  (NLT) - Unity in the Body

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.


It happened at Home Depot.  I stopped in to pick up some rope to repair my cat scratching post and visit some former coworkers.  It was a wonderful trip – I reunited with friends I hadn’t seen in ages.  I caught up with my girlfriend, Linda – we went back and forth talking about how the Spirit was leading us.  She told me what she thought of the blog thus far, and we shared how we’d both had Martha days recently – and that both of us very much realized the consequences of such and both would far prefer to be Mary.  It was all so lovely and good.

And on my way out, I stopped to chat with my friend, Dan and let him know I’d send him an email when I got home.  A clearance display with some of my favorite seasonal Glade fragrances caught my eye – I was delighted at the price!  My exact words were:  “I love, love, LOVE…” as I walked over to pick up the cans of frosted sugar cookie and merry citrus melody – and then I heard it.  An aisle over, someone mimicking me – mocking me.  “I love, love, LOVE…”

I stopped dead in my tracks.  My friend asked what was wrong.  I told him some customers an aisle over were making fun of me, repeating my words with sarcasm… He wandered over to peek down the aisle, perhaps not believing me because he didn’t hear anything.  Hurt, I retorted in a sharp tone – “I HEARD THAT!” And murmured to myself about how mean and unnecessary their actions were as I gathered the canisters into my cart. 

My friend brushed it off and came back shaking his head – but I didn’t.  I had already internalized it and reacted.  It could have gone very differently - it should have gone differently based on what I had been studying last night and today.  And I think I even realized as soon as I’d issued my verbal reprimand that I was wrong in doing so – wrong in the wording of my response and wrong in the curt tone of my delivery.  I did discuss it thoroughly with God on the short drive home… and several of the things He’s told me the past few days came straight to the front of my mind.

Of course, first I remembered vividly my studies from last night and this morning - the passage in Luke commending us to love our enemies.  I also remembered just a few days ago Jesus Himself warned me that many would not understand my dedication to God – and that lots of folks wouldn’t get the en theos that I’ve got… my enthusiasm that runneth over – all over the place.  He told me that I would be mocked and ridiculed, and that nothing I would experience would be unlike anything those that have gone before me have endured.  He reminded me specifically not be downcast about this because I was not created to fit in, but designed and born to stand out.  I also recalled Paul’s exhortation to be humble and gentle, at once realizing there was nothing meek or gentle about the manner in which I’d reacted.  And other urgings in the Bible came to mind - those to bear with one another in love, forgiving just as God has forgiven us.  And even further Spirit enlightenment on that subject from this morning’s reflection.  I confessed my shortcoming in reacting out of emotion as opposed to choosing how to respond and being led by the Spirit in that situation and sought forgiveness for not living up to the call on my life.

At first, I was determined to carry that burden longer than I needed to - I lamented my poor behavior, almost wallowing in having let God down.  But I realized Jesus had forgiven me the moment I’d begun praying and seeking Him about the subject.  So I asked Him to help me forgive myself… thankfully He’s very good about that.  With that out of the way, there was room to LEARN from this experience… 

[Jesus told me Sunday (when I had my Martha’ing fiasco) that some lessons I would have to learn, not so much the hard way, but by making mistakes so that I could understand the consequences of not obeying His divine instruction… whether from the Word or something I had been hand fed by God in my personal time with the Lord.  And I realize as I’m writing this that as part of this process, I will have to learn how to more quickly forgive myself so that I don’t get hung up in the devil’s trap of self-imposed guilt and shame that keeps me from making the progress intended.]

Back to the LEARNING...
Well, last night, my first reading of the Luke passage, I was quite certain I had no enemies to speak of – even those who have hurt me in the past, I carry no grudges toward in the present.  Now having had that interaction, I realize that just by the very nature of who I am as a devoted Christian, some in this world (OF this world specifically) will choose to set themselves up and act as enemies toward me, even if I mean them no harm at all – like what happened earlier.  And it is my responsibility as one called by God to choose how to respond in these situations – to be led by the Spirit in LOVE – as opposed to reacting out of hurt feelings and damaged emotions.

I recognize now that I reacted so viscerally because even though Jesus had warned me that I’d be mocked, and even though I realize folks at the grocery store just days ago probably wondered what asylum I had wandered out of with all my extra, I’d never experienced the criticism or heard it directly.  I didn’t know it was going to sound like THAT – that it was going to feel like THAT.  It stung right to my core.   Being ridiculed for my enthusiasm, I’m sure it’s happened before.  And even though I logically know that a lot of folks won’t get my I-walk-around-in-the-Joy-of-the-Lord and have excitement bubbling over personality and manner, I just wasn’t expecting THAT. 

I know that most people’s instinct is to criticize and demean what they don’t understand.  Logically, I get it.  Now removed from the whole situation, it does make me sad for them that to make themselves feel better in that moment they needed to make fun of me.  It pulls on my heart of compassion, realizing they aren't gifted as I am with the presence of God within them everywhere they go lighting up their lives.  Knowing they don’t have what I do – this abundant JOY that overflows.  And to realize that they’re still so narrow minded that even when they overhear the Joy of the Lord, they have no appreciation for it – their only inclination is to mock it.  

Looking back, I understand why I said what I did.  I was unprepared even having been warned.  It hurt… a LOT.  It was unexpected.  I felt blindsided and reacted.   But now, I know and can choose better how to respond in the future so long as I stay grounded in Christ and keep my heart and mind trained on the Spirit's leadership and guidance in such situations.  
In the car,  while examining the situation by the help of the Spirit, I imagined how it must have felt to the apostles gone before being ridiculed and made fun of.  I’m sure it felt agonizing to Jesus being mocked on the cross as He hung dying for us all, including those laughing at Him in scorn.  But in all grace and setting the ultimate example, He prayed, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

I realize THAT should have been my response.  To pray for them… for those that mock the Joy of the Lord because they don’t understand, because they don’t know.  Thereby choosing not to internalize the hurt and pain, but to extend grace and mercy freely to my haters, just as it has been shown to me.  Because I am called, because I am HIS.  And by His grace at work in me, I am well capable and fully equipped to do so… And so are you. 
I realize this may be a difficult message to hear.  It is not a natural instinct to love those who harm you.  None of this is meant to be accomplished of your own means… None of anything we are called to do by the Word is meant to be done on our own.

I realize that in this moment you may not believe yourself capable of immediately extending grace and forgiveness in hurtful situations, but I encourage you to stretch your faith and remind yourself that GOD is in control if you will submit yourself wholly to Him.  With Him and by His power, ALL things are possible.  He is not at all limited by what you bring to the table or by your own ability to understand, imagine or reason through a situation.  
He is not limited by anything. 
If that is hard for you to wrap your mind around, I get it.  I strongly urge you to pray through it.  Ask God to work on your heart – ask Him specifically to help you take Him out of the box you have put Him in and realize that He is GOD.  Ask Him to reveal the Truth of the verse to you:
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
Psalm 46:10

Meditate on that word.  Consider mind wandering on it a bit and expounding on what every part of it means to you and what that means for your life.  Ask the Spirit to help you internalize that truth because it is a game changer.
 "We all make mistakes sometimes,
we've all stepped across that line..."
We have every reason to extend all grace and mercy to others because we are always in such desperate need of it ourselves - and in truth, it has been poured out on us so freely, we should never withhold it from another for any reason.
Until next time…
Be blessed!!! <3

© K. Michelle Payne 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment