“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.” Luke 6: 27-29
Dr. Chapman asks us to appreciate people. In fact, along with the things we have been blessed with, he asks us to recognize the blessings of people in our lives.
He recommends that we start with our immediate family and then branch out to our less immediate family; then friends in all the parts of your life.
But what about the people who drive you crazy?
Love them too.
As it says in Luke, Jesus sets a high standard for all of us. He does not intend us to ignore the irritating and frustrating people we have around us.
This is what I have learned, primarily late in life and mostly in church.
1.I often have the wrong idea about people. People are not mean and hateful for no reason; there is usually a good reason for that type of behavior. They are struggling with a problem or they have some illness themselves or a loved one, maybe their job is driving them crazy or maybe their spouse. You get the point. People have problems and those problems affect their behavior.
2.Many people need to share their problems with others. Some may be too proud to do that but even the proud will eventually give little hints about their struggles and when they do give you some indication about their stress and strain, all you have to do is listen. Let them know you are paying attention. Let them know their problems are important.
3.Once people give you some indication of their worries, you can begin to see why they are acting the way they are. It all makes sense and it rarely is anything that you are doing. It most often is the problem causing them stress and you happen to be in their environment and they vent on you.
How many times have you taken that ventilation personally? You have become offended and reacted negatively. You may have held a grudge. Maybe you held the grudge for a long period of time.
Once, I had a “friend” who attacked me verbally while I was playing golf with him. I was much younger at the time and I reacted negatively. I got so angry that I decided to never have anything to do with him again. I went out of my way to avoid him at work and at play for about a year. I found out later that he had just received news the day that he attacked me that his brother was going blind. I still could not forgive him. I thought his behavior was awful. Since we worked at the same place, it was inevitable that we would be in the same place from time to time and eventually, he was in my office and I decided to clear the air. I had thought about him a lot over the past year. Most of the thoughts were negative. I experienced a lot of stress about why he behaved the way he did.
We had our talk. I told him how upset I was when he verbally abused me. I will never forget how he reacted. He expressed shock that he had caused such a reaction. He apologized and admitted that he had not thought about that day one time since it had happened.
I was the one who carried around the anger and frustration.
He had none.
My anger and frustration only did one thing to me—it made me negative, it hurt my outlook on life, it made my temper worse.
Now at my age I look back on what happened and wonder why God put that episode in my life and I think I know.
To teach me that holding onto hate for another is a fruitless activity.
Yes that man, that day, was unlovable. Did he need to be loved? Yes he did. Should I have found a way to love him? I should have.
I was not able to muster the love I needed.
The love God expected for me to have.
God expects us to love the unlovable.