Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Never Tire of Doing Good

Becoming a Christian is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Living as a Christian? Well, sometymes I think that’s the hardest thing I have to do, especially when faced with the injustices that people do to one another.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been severely hurt in the past or maybe it’s because when I was taught the Golden Rule, I took it to heart. 

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

While this phrase sounds like it’s right out of the Bible, it isn’t.  However it is a synopsis of a commandment that Jesus gave when some of the uppity religious leaders were trying to test Him.  In Matthew 22 we read that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees with His direct and unwavering answers to their questions, something that didn’t sit well with leaders of the synagogue. So, in trying to trick Him they got a lawyer to, in a sense, cross-examine Jesus.

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus was basically saying to treat other people the way you would want to be treated.  I don’t know about you, but I appreciate it when people show me things like love, kindness, understanding and patience. If that’s the case, that’s what I should be offering to those around me and, with the exception of a less than stellar moment here and there, I find these actions rather easy…that is until I see someone treat another person with utter disregard and complete unfairness, then, well you might say I want to drop hold of the Golden Rule in order to exercise the spirit of slap that swells up in my hand.   

I recently learned that some members of my church family were going through a difficult patch in their marriage. Of course my first instinct was to pray for healing. So for about a week I prayed to that end, but God said no.  The man moved out, leaving his wife and three, young children.  Devastated by the news I shifted the focus of my prayer and began praying God’s comfort for the mother and children. 

One evening when going to dinner with my mom we drove by this family’s house and I voiced a quick prayer for the mother and the children.  When I was finished my mom pointed out that I didn’t include the dad in my prayer.  In that moment I confessed that I was filled with the spirit of slap for the man and I found it hard to pray for him after what he did to his family.  Why should he get the benefits of the Golden Rule when he chose not to apply it to his wife and children?  My mom was quick to point out that if he could do what he did then he needed more prayer than anyone.

It was then that I unleashed my spirit of slap…on myself.  I didn’t mean judge the man for his actions, though I guess I did and for that I’m sorry. I’ve just never done well with things I can’t comprehend and his actions exits in that category.  The bottom line is that I absolutely hate what the man did, but I love the friend that did it and he truly does need my prayer. 

There’s a passage in 2 Thessalonians that talks about people who are idle and how to handle them. I related it to this situation I’m trying to understand because in my mind idleness in relationships can bring them to an end.  But instead of focusing on what the passage said about idle people, I focused on what was said to me as an onlooker. At one point the apostle Paul writes: 

13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.  Later he ends his letter by saying: 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

These two verses are significant to me. The first verse reminds me that no matter how hard it may be I need to continue to do good or more specifically to keep implementing that Golden Rule, whether I think it’s deserved or not. The second verse reminds me that God loves us all, even when we mess up, even when He has no reason to love us, He does while He patiently waits for us to repent. His grace is always there for us and it is sufficient.

So, while this situation is far from being resolved and I am certain that I will have an ongoing battle with the spirit of slap, through it all I learned, yet again, that living life as a Christian isn’t always easy, but it’s always the answer. 

L.D. Kirklin