I came to the conclusion some time ago that I will almost certainly meet my demise running or biking. I can’t tell you the number of near catostrophic crashes I’ve experienced, ranging from chasing dogs, swerving cars, tree branches, mud, people making out in tunnels on the bike trail (twice!) and more. Recently, I was running across the street at a crosswalk when a car ran a red light and nearly hit me. Taking into consideration all of my past experiences, I responded by signaling that he was #1 and screaming some medical advice about visiting his optometrist (Note: for those not inclined to catch sarcasm, there was A LOT of it in that last sentence). I also took care to note his license plate number.
As I continued my run I was fuming, as I thought about how horrible that driver was and how I was going to report him to the police. But, I soon started being disappointed in someone else: myself. I was very embarrassed and disappointed in how I had responded. Yes, that person was in the wrong, and yes, I could have been hurt, but none of that justified behaving like a jerk. I am very concerned that we live in a culture where it has become normal, and seemingly right, to respond maliciously if you feel wronged. Feel slighted in business? Write a horrible review on social media. Wronged in a relationship? Do something even worse to the person who wronged you. If someone hurts us then we are going to lash back twice as hard. But, that’s not at all Jesus’ view. Jesus tells us this:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42
Jesus’ response to the negative actions of others is to respond with love. Not only does he say let it go, but he says to turn towards them. Why on earth would Jesus tell us this? Because Jesus’ goal is to love and save EVERYONE, regardless of what they have done. Therefore, he tells us to not simply reject a sinner, but to love them so that they may come to Him. Now look, I’m not telling you to just let evil and lawlessness happen. There are certainly times to stand up for what is right. What I am encouraging today is that when you get angry at someone to put that anger aside and try to have an attitude of love and restoration as Jesus has for all of us. Let’s not always act out of our anger, but out of Jesus’ amazing love.