Loving Anyway

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom.12:17-21).

A young man went to work at a new job. Within a short time he found himself working with another man who seemed to make it his business to antagonize him. For a number of weeks, the other man taunted him, trying to anger him and perhaps even wanting to pick a fight. But the response of the young man was not what his antagonist had expected. Instead of getting mad, or lashing back, the young man would simply smile in response to the other’s remarks.
This went on for some time until the taunter finally came to the young man and asked him, “Why don’t you ever get mad? I have tried to get to you and you just smile as though it does not bother you. Why is that?” The young man explained that it was not something he thought he should get mad about. From that time on, the other man never tried to antagonize him again.

Time after time in scripture, we are encouraged not to return evil for evil, but instead, to show kindness--even to them who do evil to us. “Turn the other cheek” and “love them that persecute you” are the words and rules by which the child of God is called to live.. For in so doing, we are the reflections of our Heavenly Father, demonstrating and unconditional love regardless of the treatment to ourselves.
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us:

"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 someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. "You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (v.38-48).

There are some central truths we should all be aware of: first, it is the love of God in Christ that has given us the opportunity to experience God’s grace and have salvation; and second, it is that same love that must be reflected in our lives if we are going to be the lights to this world that God called us to be. Jesus loved and died for the whole world, and that even included the man who drove the nail through his hand. He wants us to learn to love the same. For within a soft answer, a gentle smile or a reaching out to one who has persecuted us, God may find within our hearts--within that moment--the very love He can use to draw another lost soul into everlasting life.

Day by Day Devotionals: www.daybyday.org