There is a children’s book by Judith Viorst entitled – I’ll Fix Anthony. It is a story about a younger brother who complains about the way his older brother Anthony treats him. “My brother, Anthony, can read books now, but he won’t read any books to me. He plays checkers with Bruce from his school. But when I want to play, he says, ‘Go away or I’ll clobber you.’ I let him wear my Snoopy sweatshirt, but he never lets me borrow his sword. Mother says deep down in his heart, Anthony loves me. Anthony says deep down in his heart, he thinks I stink. Mother says deep deep down in his heart, where he doesn’t even know it, Anthony loves me. Anthony says deep deep down in his heart, he still thinks I stink. When I’m six, I’ll fix Anthony.”
The truth is, we may be more like this little brother than we want to admit. Like a few bumper stickers I have seen – Do unto others before they can do unto you; I don’t get mad, I get even; Keep honking I am reloading; Please tailgate, I need the money; To err is human, to forgive is out of the question.
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that. And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners. Love your enemies. Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High” (Luke 6:31-35).
One thing Christ requires of those who claim to be His followers, is a selfless love, especially for those who mistreat them.
Consider first, how Christ has treated us. He did not simply express a feeling of pity, He displayed an unbelievable compassion. He did something that is beyond explanation – He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sin, and give us something we did not deserve (1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:8-9).
Now, although we really cannot do the same (die for someone’s sin), but we most certainly can demonstrate the same kind of love to those who do not deserve it.
Now, I recognize such love is not natural to our human nature, but it is natural to God’s Spirit – who by the way, lives in us, and is the same Spirit which will guide us (John 14:16-18). What is now natural, becomes super-natural, and what may not be normal, we can now exercise when we are obedient to God.
Thus, when we are merciful, we are giving to others what God has given to us. Aren’t you glad He didn’t give retribution (“clobber you”) as His first response to you?