A Christian lady owned two prize chickens that one day got out of their run and busied themselves in the garden of an ill-tempered neighbor. The man caught the hens, wrung their necks, and threw them back over the fence. Naturally, the woman was upset, but she didn't get angry and rush over and scream at him. Instead, she took the birds, dressed them out, and prepared two chicken pies. Then she delivered one of the freshly baked pies to the man who had killed her hens. She apologized for not being more careful about keeping her chickens in her own yard. Her children, expecting an angry scene, hid behind a bush to see the man's face and hear what he'd say. But he was speechless! That chicken pie and apology filled him with a burning sense of shame. But she wasn't trying to get even. Her motive in returning good for evil was to show her neighbor true Christian love, and maybe even bring about a change of heart.
In Romans 12:9-21, the apostle Paul said that by helping our enemies we heap 'burning coals of fire"" on their heads. He certainly didn't mean that this is a good way to hurt them or to get even. He meant that by using kindness we might secure their repentance, thus showing our sincere desire for their eternal good as well as maintaining our own.
I remember when I was a young child and I would get angry about something someone had done or hadn't done that affected me adversely. While I plotted my revenge, my mother would gently chide, "two wrongs don't make a right." As much as I wanted to hurt the other person to show them that they had hurt me, I knew that my mother was correct in her interpretation of the situation. And let's face it, she usually was.
We do not know what our neighbors are experiencing at any given time and this fact should make us want to be kind and compassionate to them even more so. We have a responsibility to be the person that God created us to be.
Looking at Luke 6: 27-36 we find further instructions on how to be what God wants us to be - "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
We are children of God and as such, we should be able to do far more than just what the average sinner can do. We should be able to love our neighbor and forgive them any transgression just as we expect and hope that they will do the same for us. After all, we are only human and we have made just as many mistakes as they have.
There are many of us that do not feel that we should have to be nice to others as there have been people in our lives that were not nice to us. We believe that we are owed more, especially if we have been victimized and sometimes, when an opportunity comes, we take it, even if it looks too good to be true, because we think that we deserve it.
Leo Tolstoy once wrote a story that illustrates this point. It is about a successful peasant farmer who was not satisfied with the amount of land he owned. In fact, he wanted more of everything. One day he received a novel offer. For 1,000 rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a day. The only catch in the deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown.
Early the next morning he started out walking at a fast pace. By midday he was very tired, but he kept going, covering more and more ground. Well into the afternoon he realized that his greed had taken him far from the starting point. He quickened his pace and as the sun began to sink low in the sky, he began to run, knowing that if he did not make it back by sundown the opportunity to become an even bigger landholder would be lost.
As the sun began to sink below the horizon he came within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath, his heart pounding, he called upon every bit of strength left in his body and staggered across the line just before the sun disappeared. He immediately collapsed, blood streaming from his mouth. In a few minutes he was dead.
Afterwards, his servants dug a grave in which to place him. It was not much over six feet long and three feet wide. The title of Tolstoy's story was: "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" The truth is that we don't need any land at all, because our home is not here on earth, it is up above in heaven with our Father. Our stay here on earth is only temporary and we will be able to get home to see our Father if and when we act accordingly to his Word. When we treat all of his children with the kindness that he has treated us with.
Every once in a while, I like to read my horoscope just for entertainment purposes. One that I read recently, however, had a message that I believe will work for us no matter what your sign is.
It stated, "You have not always been encouraged to strive for excellence. But encouragement or not, there is something in you that urges you on to do what's good and right."
Well, I believe that they hit this nail right on the head, but it has nothing to do with the fact that I am an Aquarius. It has to do with the fact that I am a child of God and He is the one urging me, and you as well, to do what is good and right. Go out into the world and do good and right by the people that you meet today and every day.