I have to admit, I laughed.
A friend sent me a meme the other night, a picture of someone who has been less than kind to me, one that was poking some fun at him. I didn’t feel too bad about laughing in private. This guy has published posts misrepresenting me and my beliefs. He has circulated memes much like that with my picture that distorted my views and he did it to belittle me. So, it was very easy to take some pleasure when someone turned the tables on him. The bully got bullied. Ha ha. I didn’t create the pic or publish it. I just enjoyed it.
But I have a small problem with my fleshly reaction…it’s fleshly. It’s not biblical. It’s not of the Spirit.
Jesus gave us this command:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (John 5:43-44)
So, how does laughing at a picture ridiculing him fit with this? I have to admit, I haven’t been praying for him – oh, a few times I’ve considered some of those prayers out of Psalms, you know the ones I mean. But Jesus commanded me to pray for him, not laugh at memes ridiculing him. Maybe I should start doing that more?
Paul was probably thinking of this when he said, in Romans 12:14,
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Curse doesn’t mean to swear at him, but to speak ill of him, to demean him, to speak destruction against him. Yes, in my heart, and to my friends, and in email exchanges with him, I’ve cursed him. I do not think I’ve blessed him much. Frankly, my struggle is that most of the time I don’t WANT to bless him. But that doesn’t change the fact that God’s word commands me to bless him. “But he has cursed me a hundred times.” He has. But that is his problem and it never gives me the right to curse back, does it? What does the word say about that?
Repay no one evil for evil. (Romans 12:17)
No one. Paul doesn’t give us any limits or releases. “No one unless he pushes you too far.” Nope. I’m not allowed to repay anyone evil for evil. I’m called to do something very different.
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20-21)
Love. Bless. Pray. Feed. Overcome evil with good. There’s not much room for laughing at memes that ridicule him, is there?
Can I make a confession here? I pretty much suck at this. That’s a word it’s still hard for us old fogeys to use – it was a rank profanity in my youth, but I can’t think of another word that adequately describes my suckitude at this. I return evil for evil. I hate my enemies. I want them to suffer. I rejoice to hear that they have been brought low. Welcome to Daveland. But there is a little good news, I guess. As I laughed at that picture, there was a still small voice inside me saying, “No, my son.”
I think that is the Holy Spirit. He is still at work in me. He is not going to let me always be the mayor of Daveland, living in the flesh – anger, rivalry, strife, division, grudges – all those things that have always been there but a decade of blogging has exacerbated. He wants me to become more and more a man of God, a man of the Spirit – conformed to the image of Christ. He demands that I obey the commands of the word, not just notice them. He calls me to love the one who persecutes me and tries to destroy me. He demands that I pray for him instead of gossip about him. His command is that I return good for evil and destroy the evil with his LOVE, not with my flesh.
It will take a miracle.