In the middle of a confrontation between two brothers, one hauls off and hits the other. The brother who got hit stands there stunned and hurt. The brother who hit wants to take it back, but can’t. He stands there and braces for the fight. Instead of returning the punch, the hit brother asks, ‘Does that make you feel better?! Go on, take another hit.’ Then offers his other cheek. His brother rubs his aching fist and shakes his head. It didn’t make him feel better. It made him feel worse. There’s no way he’ll take another hit. Especially when there is obviously no fight.
A girl sneaks into her sister’s room to take a shirt she wasn’t allowed to borrow. Her sister walks in and finds her wearing it. She’s disappointed, but instead of screaming at her, as expected, she says, ‘It looks good on you,’ and offers to loan her the matching shoes. Next time, she’ll just ask instead of sneaking around.
The sixteen year old takes his dad’s sports car out for a joyride. He’s not supposed to be driving with his friends in the car, but he does it anyway. He’s not old enough to drink, but he does it anyway. Fun and freedom got in the way of ‘right’ and his bad choices started stacking up. He knew he’d be in trouble, so he made sure to make it count. Hours later, the shiny sports car was wrapped around a tree and he was in the back of an ambulance. When his dad came in the hospital room, his shame hurt worse than his broken leg. He was ready to forfeit all of his freedom and make promises he fully intended to keep, but his father wouldn’t let him talk. He just cried and kissed his face like he did when he was little. ‘I don’t care about the car, son, you’re alive.’ He would rather have a son who could do it again than lose him over his mistakes.
A drunk was staggering down the sidewalk, into the road, onto the sidewalk. Tripping and cussing and throwing up. Everyone avoided her. Crossing the street, rushing past, ignoring her. Her brother was out with his friends and noticed the commotion she was stirring. People were staring, making snide remarks and showing their disgust. He left his friends and ran over to her. He threw his jacket around her bare shoulders and made excuses for her to the people as he lead her to his car. He’ll have some damage control to do in the morning, but tonight, he just wants to get her home.
If a stranger hits you, you hit back. Your honor is at stake.
If a stranger steals your shirt, you take it to the public. Let the merciless law teach them a lesson.
If a stranger stole your car and wrecked it, you’d be happy they were in the hospital. Serves them right.
If a stranger was stumbling around in the dark, jacked up on who knows what, you’d avoid them, too. They’re not yours to take care of.
“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” –Jesus, Matthew 5:38-42
But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ -Luke 15-22-24
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ -Luke 10:33-35
Love is not limited to family, the command extends to everyone. You may not know the other human being, but, because of the way Jesus set this up, they’re your family. You don’t get to pick and choose and you don’t get to look after your honor, your time or your stuff. We have to treat everyone the way we would treat our own family. The goal in the ‘ideal’ family would be to get past the differences sooner than later so that we can all sit down together again. You see the worst in each other and get past it because you can also see the best.
Something that you have to consider, is that when a person screws up, it shocks them as much as it shocks you. There is an opportunity to turn it around and use it to bond you closer if you look for it. Instead, we assume the worst and don’t know what to do with the ‘monster’ they’ve become to us. We turn people into ‘strangers’ so we don’t have to deal with the pain of going through the recovery with them.
‘I don’t even know who you are anymore.’
You’re strong, they’re weak. You have to hold them up, carry them if you have to. You, as a self-proclaimed Christian, have to get past yourself and bear them, their ‘burdens.’ That’s how you fulfill the Law of Christ. The Love Law.
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. -Galatians 6:1-3