My five-year-old daughter, Holly, came home from pre-school the other day and informed me another student was being mean to her, “She’s always mean to me,” she pouted. As a parent, something rises up inside when we hear that our child has been hurt by another. Our defense mode automatically kicks in. When our child hurts, we hurt. Because of this, we tend to give them guidance that doesn’t line up with God’s word. Sweetness for the offender is not on the tip of our tongue. We want our little one to be bold and ferocious in the face of controversy. However, this is not always the best advice. Unfortunately, this will not be the last time Holly comes face to face with meanness. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance I teach her how to deal with this issue now, as described in Jesus’ teachings. What she learns from me, hopefully, will stay with her the rest of her life.
Even as adults we find ourselves facing situations where others are cruel to us. Hopefully we are not on the giving end. Regardless, if we are living around humans, we will come in contact with ruthless people. They can be gossiping co-workers, rude businesses, backstabbing friends and even controlling family members. How do we deal with these inevitable circumstances? Jesus addressed this very issue. He said, “love, bless, do good and pray” for your enemies. Those are people who “hate you, spitefully use you and persecute you.” Wait a minute! I didn’t find anything about retaliation. Instead, we are to treat them in a way that is the very opposite of how they treated us. It doesn’t seem fair and it definitely conflicts with our human nature.
What’s the point of being kind anyway? No one wants to come across weak and defenseless. Even if we wanted to show kindness, our very pride, tends to hold us back. What others think of us, should never be our driving force. Instead, what God thinks about us, should be at the forefront of our minds. God has a purpose for everything He teaches us in the Bible. So what is the purpose of being nice to our enemies? We find the reason in v. 45, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (emphasis added). It’s all for the purpose of being like our Father. He delights in seeing His very nature shinning through His children. It’s through our actions towards others that will identify us with Him. Part of God’s nature teaches us to show love even when it is not deserved.
We don’t have to be taught to be nice to those that are nice to us. That’s easy to do. Even unbelievers do that. As God’s people we are to go beyond the norm. We must step it up a notch. Living a mediocre life will not do! Christianity demands a life completely sold out to God. If we aren’t willing to die to ourselves, we will never be willing to live for God. To live according to God’s commands takes a life of surrender that doesn’t care what others think. We may look silly at times and it may not even make sense to others, but all that matters is that we are pleasing to God.
To the world, the way of surrender looks weak. When Christ hung on the cross, others mocked him, “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ,this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:31-32). Jesus became a target for insults when he “appeared” his weakest. In reality, his act of obedience to God, became his strength. We read that Christ’s sacrifice became God’s power for our salvation (Romans 1:16). The world is the one who has it all backwards.
Next time you are faced with a potential enemy, remember, submitting to God’s word is actually a display of His power and strength inside you and not an act of feebleness like the world would like to think.