to those against us

“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Matthew 5:38-48; MSG

When someone seems against us, what does Jesus tell us to do? Pray. We humbly go on serving in love. But I like what is said first:

When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer…

We need that space ourselves. Instead of reacting and responding in kind, we hold back. We pray for them. And in that act of praying God moves in the situation: in us and in them.

And we humbly do good. That’s how real love is expressed according to Scripture.

God will help us as we prayerfully endeavor to step in this direction. From an angry, hard heart, to a softened heart. It might take some time, but we need to pray. And then act accordingly, which a lot of times is not to act much at all, but carry on in our tasks. And help that person in whatever ways we can. In and through Jesus.