I remember very fondly the winter that I received my rabbit-fur coat. I felt like a movie star; it was so luxurious. No one else had to know that it was a hand-me-down from my cousin, but we sure couldn’t have afforded to buy something like that. We never had a lot of money, but one thing my parents instilled in me was that there will always be someone who has less. I had a sweet, shy friend named Valerie who fit that category. She rotated three or four outfits during the school week until I handed down some of my hand-me-downs to her.
And then, there was “E.” You know the type: She was cute, popular, rich and so full of herself that it oozed out and infected those around her – like a zombie, only with flawless skin. “E” tormented Valerie on the playground for sport and made fun of her hand-me-down apparel. She continued her better-than-you attitude all the way through high school, until we finally parted ways. To this day, I cannot think of “E” without picturing her prancing toe-heel through the hallway with her Judy Jetson ponytail swishing behind her and a horde of slack-jawed boys in tow.
When I read in the Bible that Jesus said to pray for people who willfully persecute us and even to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-45), I think of people like “E.” Those types of people are difficult to tolerate in the same room, much less love! Luke 6 takes Jesus’ message a couple of steps further. Not only are we supposed to pray for people like “E” and treat them with love (as opposed to decades’ worth of festering bitterness, perhaps), but we are even expected to bless them and do good to them (v. 27-28, ESV). But, why?
Why should I waste my breath praying for someone who was nothing but a pain in my neck for years?
Because God himself is merciful (v. 36), and if I am going to become anything remotely similar to his character, then I must put aside the past and remember that God loves “E” just as much as he does me. Ouch! My desire to follow Christ has to supersede my desire to see people like “E” dethroned from their pedestals. After all, if I can’t forgive her, then what does that say about God’s grace? That I don’t believe it’s enough to forgive her? That’s dangerously thin ice to tread, considering all that he’s forgiven me. As easy as it is to do, it’s not my place to judge “E.” I am supposed to reflect the image of Christ to her. Pray. Love. Bless. Do Good. Forgive.