In “The Good and Beautiful Life” by James Bryan Smith, the author brings up a friend who learned to bless the people around her as she was being cursed by them.
The author says the dominant narrative of our world is if someone hits you, to hit back harder, kind of the eye for an eye mentality that Gandhi once said would make the whole world blind. The legal system of the time was based on the idea that it was logical to punish others the way they have hurt you.
“38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a]39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your (cloak) as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matt 5:38-42)””
In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus uses his sermon on the mount to show that there is a better way of doing things. We should never allow others to abuse us, but in some cases, we can yield to a situation, as the author says, “Jesus is not giving a universal law but a kingdom principle that offers an alternative to the way people react to
each other in the world. When we are in a stable place (the kingdom) with a solid identity (one in whom Christ dwells and delights) we can choose to respond to attack by not attacking back.”
Matthew 5:43-48. What does Jesus say next? To love your enemies! The author remembers there was a basic expectation for people to love their neighbors and their family, but it was perfectly okay not to like anyone else. Jesus asks them to take it a step further and love their enemies. So the book does mention that loving your enemies does not mean you always have to like them, rather that you should “will for their good and demonstrate it through action.”
The Soul Training exercise for the chapter deals with praying for the success of our competitors. Since most people don’t have too many real enemies out there and we are not being sued or beaten, a competitor can be anyone we measure ourselves against or anyone who makes our lives difficult.
Valentines Day. I feel very alone right now. I have been trying to get out and see friends. I struggle to find good relationships. I spent the past six months trying to go on a date with someone and she kept having to cancel on me. I did that with someone last year too. We gave up and stopped speaking to one another.
This is important because it can make me confused and angry, but I also have to remember not to curse the people around me when life does not go my way. The Lord might have something better for me down the road.
I think the closest thing we have to enemies growing up are the bullies from school. There were a few kids who were really bad, and one of them ended up becoming a peer mentor in college. Something changed in his life that qualified him to be responsible as a mentor. And that’s the thing about bullies, we may be struggling with our imperfections… but bullies who taunt us and follow our daily lives are dealing with something greater than that and through grace, they may need our prayers.
There are a few bullies out there who I never want to come in contact with ever again, but on a lighter note things can be tough working in retail. 99% of all customers are kind and just want to get through their day. We sometimes have to stand up to the other 1% and their demands and we get treated badly. We still have to bless those people somehow.
You’ll hear of adults looking to fight each other outside over the wait time on an expired coupon, but that never works in real life. You’ll also have thoughts of revenge for past mistakes made which affected you. I think that learning to bless those around us even though things are not perfect is a slow process and takes time and effort.
– James –