Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Hark The Glad Sound"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 5:39-44 – But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you. (NKJV)
The other day, I was walking and typing out a text when I looked up to see an angry-looking man. He reprimanded me, "This is a sidewalk. You need to be looking where you are going." I laughed, replying, "I am sorry. Usually it is me saying that to someone else."
"What? That makes it right — that you do whatever everyone else does?" he exclaimed.
"No sir, it doesn't." I replied. "I said I was sorry."
"Yeah, I heard you," he grumbled.
While clearly I had not paid attention and had disregarded physical distancing, my thoughts were, "Wow! He was pretty nasty." I walked faster to release the self-righteous anger. After a few minutes, I felt God showing me this man. He had a suitcase in one hand. Then, I remembered an old, beat-up van with the side door open. The man had been moving or helping someone move. It was hot, and his day was probably not going well. He was likely on item 25 of a list of 453 things to do, and here comes this idiot — me — not looking where she is going. I found myself whispering to God, I forgive his nastiness. Please give him strength and release his anger.
Despite this prayer, I was amazed that a small incident, where I was in the wrong, resulted in my non-Christian impulse to repay bad behaviour with self-righteousness and a little anger. Hmm.
What did Jesus mean by repaying evil with good? The news is replete with evil: young people hosting COVID-19 parties, allegations of conflict of interest in government, rioting as a by-product of peaceful protest, abuse of power, sexual depravity. We hear a lot about evil and more evil. Yet Christians have clear biblical guidelines to react differently than secular individuals. We are to feed our hungry enemy and bless those who persecute us. We are not to repay evil with evil but rather to overcome evil with good.
I thought about how I could have repaid this man's bad behaviour with good. I realized that the man's reaction was probably less related to my nearly walking into him than to what was happening in his hectic life that day.
When we encounter bad behaviour, let's remember that we are called to repay evil with goodness. Perhaps by reminding ourselves that the behaviour of others may have little or nothing to do with us, it will be easier for us to turn the other cheek.
Prayer: O God, help us to respond to bad behaviour with kindness. Show us how to turn the other cheek when we are wronged. Bring healing and peace to our lives and to Your world. Open our minds and our hearts so that we may offer healing and peace to those we encounter. Amen.