There’s a particular man I dislike at the moment. He is someone who has brought harm to my family. He is a vile, cowardly, insipid and ungodly man and I feel absolutely justified hating him. I have even thought about doing harm to him. I never speak to him any more. We don’t move in any of the same circles other than the children’s schools. I try to avoid him and his wife if I can.
However today was Sports day for their year so all of us parents were gathered on the school field to watch. I dread times like this, times when our paths are likely to cross. I know this man thinks we are the lowest of the low without any justification at all.
I was watching from the brow of the hill today and this man(I’ll call him the pantomime villain as that’s how I think of him or p.v) was watching the activity from the bottom of said hill. I kept finding my eyes drawn to him and his wife and child. They both looked so happy and healthy with no sign of the emotional trauma we are suffering. P.V was smiling and laughing and I wanted to custard pie his face.
His eyes too were drawn to us. I took great delight in shooting him evil glances and satisfying my spirit of revenge.
But do you know what? I couldn’t do it for long. As much as I hate P.V with his air of gaiety and emperor’s new clothes veneer of smug satisfaction I didn’t enjoy being unkind, even to him. Instead I felt ashamed and guilty. I know he felt uncomfortable because he turned away.
In that moment all I could think of was the Bible verse “If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”. That is God’s desire. That I love my enemy and not repay evil for evil. However I try to dress it up I cannot change the meaning or truth of that command and it is a command.
Jesus knew what it was to be reviled and mocked and scourged and thought the worst of. He knew what it was like to be hated. He knew what it was like to have people misunderstand him and gossip about him. And yet. And yet he still loved me enough to take on my sin and hang on the cross for me. So how can I do anything less than obey his commands and try to live the way he asks?
I will always have a problem with this man. I will always dislike him but I have to forgive him, for my sake.