Still on the Hook
It seems I have yet to fully grasp ( or maybe fully embrace) the commandment to love my enemies. References to this directive abounded everywhere I looked this last week. They were in my devotionals, on the Internet, even in the historical novel I am reading, constant reminders to be patient, kind, and loving in return for insults, aggravations, and general rudeness. Well, I tried. I truly did. So what part am I still missing?
In my devotional, Good Morning, Lord, Joseph Sullivan pointed out that attitude is most important. I should be gracious and courteous when responding to unpleasant and uncertain moments. "Smile at the testy waiter, the high strung executive," and one of my personal daily challenges, "the impetuous, horn honking motorist."
I spend my morning commute writing bumper stickers. A few of my favorites:
If you want to reserve this road for your personal use, you must call 48 hours in advance.
I have the legal right to go the speed limit.
Yellow does not mean speed up.
That red light is not a suggestion.
Am I instead to smile and say a prayer for the guy who just cut in front of me and then slowed down, forcing me to stand on my brakes? And the big truck riding my bumper so close I can't see his headlights? I am to smile and think sweet thoughts, pray even? And the clerk at the check out who acted like she was doing me a favor by taking my money? I am to be gracious in thought as well as deed? And what about that woman who appears to spend her nights thinking of insults and innuendos to slap me with everyday? As my daughter would say, my feathers were a bit ruffled at the thought.
Well, Jeremiah 18:20, my next listed reading, answered that question. ....Remember that I have stood in thy sight to speak for them and turn away thy indignation from them. The foot note said this was spoken in the person of Christ. He loved (and died) for those who tortured and killed him. He not only was gracious and loving, He defended those men who treated Him far worse than I have been treated. No one is whipping me with a cat of nine tails and no one is hammering nails into my flesh.
Then the light came on, and I finally got His point, the full message. Outwardly I may manage to remain polite, and I might be managing my temper better, but I am making judgments. I have failed to remember the old adage, hate the sin, love the sinner. My head hangs in shame.
However, as Jesus told me in The Divine Embrace, it is not how many times I fail, it is how hard I try. It is the effort that counts. And with that in mind, I will work on an attitude adjustment, try not to judge the driver of the big four wheel drive riding my bumper. I will try to be patient with the older driver putting along twenty miles under the speed limit. I will be gracious and pray for the caustic woman I must deal with every day, and all the other challenges to my vow to love my enemies in whatever form they take.
I don't need to be doormat, but my response should not be anger and judgment. I need to rely on my prior lessons and stand silent to unfair insults, remembering their judgment of me isn't as important as God's. After all when I finally cross over into eternity, it will be His opinion that matters, not theirs. I do need to speak up for injustices when necessary - and forgive often.
However, as in The Woman's Prayer, I am about to get in the car now, about to go to work, about to run errands at the local market, and a whole host of activities that will set me up as a target for rudeness, and try my patience. I need your help Lord, for I cannot do this on my own. I know. I've tried it my way, and it isn't working.