Saturday, December 02, 2006

Loving Your Enemies on the Street Corner

Diane pulled up to the house and I could tell she was upset (the tears gave it away). When I asked her what happened, she told me that as she was putting up a sign for our yard sale, a homeless woman who was panhandling on the same corner began to yell at her. “Why are you putting up a sign to sell your junk at a yard sale, when I’m out here hungry? You don’t look like you’re missing many meals (she seemed to miss the fact that Diane is 32 weeks pregnant). You probably wouldn’t even help me. Don’t put up that sign.” Diane put up the sign, told the woman that she had intended to help her but wasn’t going to now, and then drove off, watching the woman pull the sign down.
When she got home she was angry and hurt and frustrated. We feel like we are one of the “good guys” when it comes to the poor, and here Diane was getting blasted by this woman for no reason. She was also upset at herself for getting so angry with the woman. I was fairly angry, too, but then, as only God can do, the chapter of Luke that I read today came to mind. In Luke 6, Jesus tells the crowds that if they love people who love them, what does that say? Even sinners know how to love people who love them back. But followers of Christ are to love their enemies. To bless when we are cursed, to do good to those who don’t do good to us. And so instead of offering to go and give the lady a piece of my mind,  I offered to go and take the her some food.
But my sweet wife wouldn’t have that. Instead, she collected herself, then collected a big bag of food, and went back out to find this woman. When she found her, she got out and apologized for her attitude, and they actually hugged, and the woman apologized for how she treated Diane. Diane told her, “I know you weren’t angry at me.” And the woman said, “You’re right; I wasn’t. I’m just angry.” Diane noticed that the woman’s hand was bleeding (she had scraped it in a fall), and so she came back to the house and got her some band aids and wet wipes and Neosporin, and went back out again.
Amazing that God gives us chances to see His word prove true in action, giving us chances to let Him live through us. I could not figure out why the verses about loving our enemies stood out to me this morning – I don’t really have any enemies, and I wasn’t sure how to apply it. Then the Lord gives my wife the chance to live that out in a powerful way. How cool is that?