You know that you have been taught, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you. When someone slaps your right cheek, turn and let that person slap your other cheek. If someone sues you for your shirt, give up your coat as well. If a soldier forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles. When people ask you for something, give it to them. When they want to borrow money, lend it to them. You have heard people say, "Love your neighbors and hate your enemies." But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what's so great about that? Don't even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven.(Matthew 5:38-48 CEV)
It hurt. Those words said to me. I felt neglected, overlooked, unappreciated. Invisible. It wasn't the first time either, so I guess I should have expected it.
People are inherently selfish. It's, "Do for me. Give to me. Look at me."
And I was as guilty as them in that regard, so maybe this was my fault. Maybe I sewed the seed of hate and neglect at some point, maybe I overlooked someone. Maybe I didn't shine the light of Christ bright enough. And this is my reward.
Then again ...
Christ's instructions were written to everyone. My name's written there, but so is theirs. Did they think of that when they spoke to me? Did they even realize with their behavior they became the enemy. Because the enemy is in our own camp.
The enemy is that guy who shook your hand yesterday, put a dime in your pocket, dipped your plate, cut your hair, sat in your pew, and in the next breath said, "Did you see her?" Your enemy is the one closest to you, the friend, the child, the spouse, parent, or inlaw you've pledged to love and cherish, but then they turn their back because they have "other things to do."
The enemy doesn't come clothed in fluorescent orange. The enemy wears camouflage. They look like you. They look like me.
And I must love them anyway. That's what Jesus said. He said, "They spoke against you about this thing, so offer them the other one as well." Equal opportunity insults.
And greet them.
And carry their pack.
And lend them things expecting nothing in return.
Because we must always act like our Father in heaven. No greater act than His was stabbed in the back more. Nothing ever said to me, spoken over me, or whispered behind my back compares.
I haven't died for my enemy. But He did.
So really what's a slap on the other cheek? Piddly. Small. Inconsequential. What's another dime from my pocket? Another meal I didn't want to take? Another book I didn't want to give away. Another negative comment, remark, or review when it makes me like Him.
And that is my goal, to be like Him. Like Him in victory. Like Him in power. Like Him in prayer and glory and healthy and prosperity. Like Him in offering salvation to the poor, the downtrodden, the hopeless.
Like Him in love. In reaction, reflex, and recoil. So much like Him that in my worst pain, in that moment I want to curl up and cry, or lash out in hate, instead I tilt my cheek and say, "Go ahead. Do it again."
For all the times I’ve failed You, Lord
For all the ways I’ve fallen short
Lord, forgive me now
God, I’m so in need of grace
I fall upon my face
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.