38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Dear God, like the previous passage with oaths and marriage, I am going to link the two parts of “eye for an eye” and “love for enemies” together since they seem to go hand-in-hand.
I have not had too many enemies in my life. I will always remember what my dad went through when I was in high school with a lawsuit from an attorney who put together over 2,000 plaintiffs and sued my dad’s company for $50 million. I can’t imagine the stress that this event plus the economic crash that coincided it in the late 80’s put on my dad. I could see it on him, but he also masked it pretty well for us. I learned a lot of things from him through this.
- He taught me that it is okay for your family to see you stressed and vulnerable, but, at the same time, you need to hide some of it from them for their own sake. Those who are being led need to feel the confidence of their leader. You CAN be TOO vulnerable.
- He taught me that you can forgive your enemies and reconcile. I think there was a lot of hatred for the attorney at the time, but within a couple of years of the lawsuit’s resolution my dad and the attorney became friends.
- He taught me to try to objectively find fault in yourself. It didn’t happen immediately, but he ultimately decided that they did have some amount of responsibility in the lawsuit and it wasn’t totally groundless, eventually settling out of court.
- He taught me to share my failures with others. I have heard my dad talk about this time in his professional career and he owns the mistakes that his company made during this time. The response I see from that in the people he tells isn’t judgment, but respect, appreciation, and even a little relief as they then feel free to share their failures with them.
Father, thank you for giving me a father who gave me a good example of how to follow you, how to be a faithful husband, how to be a forgiver, and how to be vulnerable. I know he wasn’t perfect. I am not perfect as a father either. I just hope that one day my kids will be able to get past the judgments they feel towards me now (as all teenagers feel towards their parents), and feel like I gave them at least a little of what my dad gave me.