How do we respond to others when they mistreat us? With love and understanding so that we can, hopefully, share the “Good News” with them? Or do we respond with whatever the law will allow? Of course if we choose the second one, we may never have the chance or opportunity to share the saving message of the gospel with that person. I think we have to ask ourselves in all situations of life, how would Jesus respond? What would Jesus’ reaction be to this? The following story was used as an illustration for a recent sermon, and it was written by Jack Hayford. It helps demonstrate a Jesus-like response to others who hurt us.
“A Chinese Christian awoke one morning on his rice farm to find that the water was gone from his fields. The situation was mysterious because the farmer flooded his fields every night. One night, he crept stealthily to a prepared hiding place near his fields and watched his neighbor steal the water. The man broke out a portion of the earthen dike that kept the water in and let the water drain into his own fields. Then the neighbor carefully repaired the dike so that the break was hardly noticeable.
“The Christian man prayed for an answer to this problem. His neighbor was not a Christian and was clearly stealing property not his own. Should the Christian report the man to the authorities? He had every legal right to do so. Should he confront his neighbor and demand repayment? Surely it was owed him, and maybe such a confrontation would stop the neighbor’s theft in the future. But wouldn’t confrontation anger the neighbor, though the Christian man was in the right? How could the grace of God be included in this problem?
“As he prayed, the Christian man received a solution. That night, he flooded his fields as usual, but he also flooded his neighbor’s fields. When he awoke the next morning, his fields, and his neighbor’s, had water in them. He did the same thing for several nights. Finally one morning, he awoke to a pounding on his door. He opened it to see a very surprised neighbor who asked him why he had done such a thing. Clearly the neighbor knew that the Christian man was aware what had been happening to the water. Why should the Christian react in kindness and generosity, instead of anger and legal action?
“The Christian man explained his faith in God and how God had shown him what to do as a result of his prayers. The neighbor had never seen or experienced such love, and immediately asked to become a Christian too.”
Not only should we treat people as we wish to be treated (Matt. 7:12) but we should also treat people with love and kindness greater than what the situation usually calls for. Christians shouldn’t react to others the way they might to us. We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) who sheds abroad, all around us, His love for all people (Rom. 5:5).
Hooker Church of Christ