Beyond the Affordable

Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.

This Christmas my family received a most surprising gift. On December 13th someone began celebrating the "12 Days of Christmas" by dropping a gift representative of each of the twelve items in the song on our doorstep. Each gift was unique and creative. In this case though, the best present truly was saved for last. The best gift wasn't a what; it was a whom.

When I heard the knock at my door on December 24th the bearer of these incredible gifts stood shyly holding the final item. When I realized who had been the purveyor of these nightly visits, I was touched in a place deep in my heart. The family who lovingly selected each item could be described at best of modest means. In fact, I would be surprised if they were able to scrape together money to buy their own children Christmas presents. They gave far beyond what they could afford to give. The wrapping of each gift had been sacrificial love.

Today I am reading the 3rd chapter of 1 Peter. Peter is an apostle characterized as impetuous and strong-willed. Based on this writing, I would add challenging to his description. Nearly every word penned in this chapter awakens my heart afresh to the need for me to entirely depend on Jesus each day. Among the gauntlets Peter throws down are these words: "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing." (Verse 9)

The idea of allowing God to repay our wrongs is frequented in both the Old and New Testament. Peter's admonition goes far beyond this. Here's what he doesn't say:
  • When someone wrongs you, you should able to muster enough self-control to not say something mean to them in return
  • When someone insults you, it's okay to throw darts at the secret dartboard featuring their face you keep tucked in your heart. Just don't throw any punches.
  • When someone hurts you, you should keep your distance from here on out to make certain it never happens again.

To me any of the above would be not only a mature response but an admirable one. Peter's assertion is that when someone tramples on me, I should bless them in return. He is asking me to give far beyond what I think I can afford to give. He is asking me to wrap my heart in sacrificial love. The verse just prior instructs me in how to do this (Verse 8):

  • Be sympathetic - When I identify with the pain of another person, it becomes difficult to not respond in love.
  • Love as brothers - When I elevate an enemy to the position of sibling, it becomes impossible not to shower him with love.
  • Be compassionate - When I allow my heart to linger on the hurts of someone else, it becomes problematic not to offer mercy.
  • Be humble - When I cast my pride and rights at the feet of my opposition, it becomes unimaginable not to take on the heart of a servant.

Jesus, a precious family chose to give to my family. They gave a gift far beyond what they could afford. You are asking me to do the same. Because of Your unfathomable love for me, it is possible for me to bless those who injure me. From the deep reservoir of You within me, love, sympathy, love, compassion and humility can allow me to give blessings I never otherwise would believe I could afford to give.

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