Monday, July 26, 2010

Lessons in Cheek Turning

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ~Mark Twain

I have been staying at my aunt's house in TN this weekend. It's 3:00 am on a Saturday morning and I am wide awake with the thought I am about to write about weighing heavy on my mind. I just went into the living room to look for paper I could write on only to find my aunt sitting there in a chair reading her 3:00 am. :-) I would like to claim it was God that woke us up at this odd hour of the morning, but I'm pretty sure her dog barking outside woke her up, and her yelling at said dog is what woke me up. :-P Anyway, for better or worse, here are my 3:00 am thoughts.
Blessed are the peacemakers,for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ~Matthew 5:9-12

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. ~Matthew 5:43-48

Since I have been keeping this blog I have had various people email me, sometimes with words of appreciation, and others asking questions, seeking advice. One such time the advice requested was regarding how to deal with someone in the person's church who had hurt them and continued to do so.

My advice? Pray for them. Every day. Indefinitely. At first, I told the person, you will feel nothing or it will be painful, but, eventually, you will feel a transformation inside and soon will be able to speak the words with sincerity.

Prayer will always change you in a positive way, and often it will change the other person as well. However, sitting and trying to watch a rose blossom will only frustrate you. Release the person into God's hands and remember that God changes people on his timetable, not yours.

This, of course, wasn't really the advise the person wanted, but I told them that it's what I do, and I have found that it works. I also encouraged them that, in some situations, it also helps to avoid the person a bit for a while, until things cool down some, but that this is unhealthy if it goes on for too long. Passiveness and "stonewalling" are both very unhealthy ways of dealing with any situation. (I've learned this from personal experience and also from my studies as a Communication Major.) It tends to magnify, rather than shrink issues and leaves both parties "stuck in a rut" so to speak.

Why "turn the other cheek?
Why treat those who treat you like dirt like royalty?

1) Because the Bible says so. (I could stop here & this be enough, but I'll go on...)

2) Because it feels good. No, not at first, sometimes there's a sharp sting of pain when you first do it or when they come back & "slap you" again--But, after that, the realization that you have taken the higher ground &, despite possible responses, chosen to be more like Christ will always feel good in the long run.

3) Read Matthew 5:9-11 again. Notice a pattern? "Blessed..." God will bless your efforts!

4) "..That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven" ~Matthew 5:45
"Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" ~Acts 10:24
God is not a partial God & we are not allowed to be either. There's one other alternative to being a child of God & that is not an alternative I ever intend to consider, which brings me to the last reason...

5) "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ~Matthew 6:14-15

Forgiveness is not just words, it must be words put into action, or it is a lie...
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. ~Matthew 7:12

God is Love and we, as Christians, must strive to be more like Him, even, and especially, when it involves "turning the other cheek".
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. ~Mark 12:30-31

Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you:
Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness. ~H. Jackson Brown

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