Tag Archives: giving

Tough Love

Revenge is about in some way feeling that you have got your own back for something that you perceive has been done wrong to you.  According to common wisdom, revenge is a dish best served cold, yet that implies careful pre-mediation of what you are going to do, rather than a simple knee-jerk reaction.

Jesus had something quite different to say about revenge…

Matthew 5:38-48 (CEV)

Revenge

38 You know that you have been taught, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” 39 But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you. When someone slaps your right cheek, turn and let that person slap your other cheek. 40 If someone sues you for your shirt, give up your coat as well. 41 If a soldier forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles. 42 When people ask you for something, give it to them. When they want to borrow money, lend it to them.

He says, when someone does something to you, not to try to get even, but to offer them something else too.  What is Jesus thinking now?  Surely if someone has abused you, stolen from you or demanded something unreasonable, you don’t offer them even more?  This makes no sense.  What about justice and rightful punishment?  What about the damage that has been done to me?  I don’t think this precludes that, it just takes the responsibility for feeling we need to wreak vengeance from us.

I wonder if this is about power?  If we give, the person who steals no longer has power over us, we are choosing to give up, and are not getting caught up in thinking only how we can retaliate.  We let the situation go free.  This may not effect the person who has wronged us, but it will affect my life.  It also shows freedom of possession.

But Jesus goes further:

Love

43 You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” 44 But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. 45 Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. 46 If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. 47 If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that? 48 But you must always act like your Father in heaven.

These are such hard passages to understand, probably even more so to act on, but this is my attempt.  I’d welcome anyone else’s thoughts…

We are to love those who we believe to be our enemies and to pray for anyone who mistreats us.  He is turning around the justification to hate anyone.  Because life is not black and white.  There’s nothing special in loving those who love you – that is easy.  God asks more of us.  I understand entirely those who find it hard to personally forgive those who have done terrible things to them, but I don’t think that is what this is about, in fact to suggest it is, is an abuse of God’s word.  But I think Jesus is challenging us to not look for excuses to dislike people, asking us not to devise our own punishments when we think it is necessary, but to look on people with his love.

As in all this weeks readings, we are being asked to think and act like God, to live the ways he asks us to, which are actually the best and healthiest way for us to live.  We are not to be deciding the right thing to do, but to seek God’s way in all things.

Lord,
I come to you for guidance
and I come to you for love.
I do not have
the inner strength and resources
to look beyond the wrongs
I perceive
have been done to me.
Yet you ask me to give
and keep on giving,
to love
and keep on loving
and to pray
for those who hurt me,
in fact
to act like you.

So I pray
for your help,
your strength,
your love,
to be in me
and through me

Take my life, my love, my all

Care Costs

*RANT ALERT*

SO, the awful flooding in the south of England has brought out the worst of the blame culture “they” should have done this or *that*. Of course, the flooding is awful, lives and livelihoods have been destroyed and it is tragic.  My argument is entirely with the response of some people.

These are not the current English floods, the issue is far wider

This morning, certain despicable newspapers are peddling something I saw on Facebook over the weekend.  I refuse to link to them, but I’m sure you’ve heard about it, the suggestion that we should stop all foreign aid while we sort out the flooding problems in this country.

I am going to align this with the cuts in provision for the homeless and social care, and the terrible consequences that such cuts are creating.

The fact of life, whether we like it or not, is that care costs.  And someone has to be willing to pay.  Lots of people are struggling at the moment, the cost of a basket of food has increased every time we go to the shops, but those costs are magnified so much more the less you have.  It is the responsibility of those who can, to support those whose life is not so easy.

We should not ignore the plight of those who are suffering in this country, but neither should that mean we should stop the support of those who have, quite literally, nothing.

The only way I can see for a solution to all this, and it will not be popular, is taxes.  Proper taxing.  No loopholes, no tax advantages, not tricks and tips, no letting huge companies being allowed to ‘negotiate’ how much they pay, no evasion and no scrimping at the cost of essential services.  I know tax isn’t popular.  We’d all like to pay less, but that is not how society works.  It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to support society – and that includes the whole world. And that will cost us, it will cost us personally.

Council tax has not risen in this country for several years.  This inevitably means that funds are reduced, no wonder councils are having to make difficult decisions about what provision is made and what cut.  Maybe it’s about time we reversed this policy.  It may be helpful on a personal level, but not on a societal one – though of course it’s apparently a vote winner…

And while I’m at it, why not raise the level of the personal tax allowance significantly – and then tax properly above that – no let-outs?  That should help with making sure those who can do pay, and those who can’t don’t.

Supporting society is the responsibility of us all.  Yes care costs.  Yes we’d all like to reduce our outgoings, but while ever we want to live as part of the human society, we have responsibilities to one another.  After all, we expect others to look after us in our moment of need.

This is not a party-political issue, it is for however the government is made up.  These are not short-term, knee-jerk reactions that are needed, but long-term public policy, regardless of which MPs sit in the Houses of Parliament.

That is probably not rant over, but it’s a start…

Inner and Outer Change #adventbookclub – Day 24

Luke 1:49-53 (CEV)

49 God All-Powerful has done
great things for me,
    and his name is holy.
50 He always shows mercy
to everyone
    who worships him.
51 The Lord has used
    his powerful arm
to scatter those
    who are proud.
52 He drags strong rulers
    from their thrones
and puts humble people
    in places of power.
53 God gives the hungry
    good things to eat,
and sends the rich away
    with nothing.

Mary’s song goes from what God has done for her to what he is going to do for his people.

Maggi leads us to the question of how come this promise hasn’t yet worked out (p111)?  Was it wishful thinking, over-enthusiasm in her excitement, a misunderstanding – or has God just let us down?

I think it is probably more about us letting God down.

Mary understands that God is working in her.  But it is not just for her benefit, but for the whole world.  Faith and the work of God are not just personal and internal, they are global and demand action.

True religion is to care for the orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27)

Jesus taught us all we need to know about justice – but we, humanity collectively and individually, have failed to live it out.

The Magnificat, Mary’s song, is a call.  A call to each one of us.  A call to live in mercy and justice, to feed the hungry, care for the poor, house the homeless – to not harbour God’s presence inside ourselves, but to let it pour out.

Tell Out My Soul

Lord,
you have promised
mercy,
justice,
peace,
an end to hunger.
You want to do it,
but you need us to join in.

Lord,
work in each one of us,
work in me,
that what you do inside me
pours out.
Make my heart
so full of joy,
so enriched by you,
that I give,
share,
and work
for these things to come.

You give me so many blessings,
help me to share them

 

This year, several of us are reading Beginnings and Endings by Maggi Dawn and joining together to comment on it.  Do join us at the Adventbookclub Facebook page, follow #adventbookclub on Twitter or comment below.  If you are also reading and blogging on this book, let me know and I will link to your blog.