Daily D – Luke 6:27-31
Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” (NLT)
If we want a better world, we have to build it. If we want better people, we have to be them.
Our control valve for diminishing the number of jerks in the world is to first and foremost not be found in their number.
Making the world a kinder, gentler place begins with us becoming kinder, gentler people.
Jesus shows us the way in these verses. First, he says, “Listen to me.” Instead of filling your head with every other person’s opinion, seek his wisdom and guidance.
Second, he says, “Love your enemies.” Love, as used here, does not mean warm, cuddly thinking and feeling toward another. Instead, it means to seek the highest good of others. A good question to ask ourselves when we encounter unloving others is, “How can I lower the level of tension in this person’s life?” The answer may well be to move away slowly.
Third, Jesus says, “Do good to those who hate you.” This is hard. However, no one ever said changing the world for the better is easy. What is the best-case scenario for this person? What could I do that would bless him or her to the point that he or she would relate differently to me?
Fourth, he says, “Bless those who curse you.” These instructions are not getting any easier, are they? This is where your grandmother’s advice comes in handy: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Remember the penguins in the movie Madagascar: “Smile and wave, Boys. Smile and wave.”
Fifth, Jesus says, “Pray for those who hurt you.” I’m guessing he did not mean to pray for lightning strikes. Again, he is focusing our attention on taking the sting out of interactions. Seek God’s highest and best. Ask God to bless the cranky people so much that they have no reason to be mean.
Sixth, he says, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.” Following Jesus isn’t always sunshine and daffodils, is it? I prefer not being slapped. I prefer keeping my cool new jacket and my very first L. L. Bean shirt. Jesus says if offering a second cheek and a jacket and a shirt are what it takes to change a person’s heart, lean into the slap. Prepare to be chilly for a bit.
Seventh, Jesus says, “Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.” It might be good to notice at this point how Jesus is leading us away from a life of naked aggression. He is also leading us away from retaliation. Most problems go away when we refuse to fight back.
Eighth, we get to the bottom line. It is also the top line. It also is the source of all seven of the other instructions here. “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” Always do the right thing. Do it when it is easy. Do it when it is hard. Do it because you want a kinder, gentler world. Do it because you want more peace and less conflict. Do it because it improves just about everything.
Let’s conclude where we started:
* If we want a better world, we have to build it. If we want better people, we have to be them.
* Our control valve for diminishing the number of jerks in the world is to first and foremost not be found in their number.
* Making the world a kinder, gentler place begins with us becoming kinder, gentler people.
I will become a kinder, gentler person.
Our Father, following your guidance is not necessarily taking the easy way, is it? Empower us for the hard, right things ahead of us today. Strengthen us for the challenges ahead of us. Use us to build a kinder, gentler world. Amen.
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