Luke 6, 27-31
Something to read
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
King James Version
[Jesus said to disciples]: "But I say to you that listen, ‘Love you enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.’"
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
The Galilee of Jesus’ day could be a violent place. It was well known for its bands of brigands. Political power was in the hands of the local Herodian prince who ruled by fear through secret police and foreign soldiers. And behind the Herodians was the might of the Roman Empire, whose military officials had the power of life and death over the Galileans: a power they often used.
It was in that environment that Jesus preached his words of ‘turning the other cheek’, of ‘loving one’s enemies’, and of ‘doing good to those who hate you’. The vast majority of the people listening to Jesus’ preaching would have been poor, very poor. Jesus was telling people, who probably only had one set of clothes, that if a robber should take their coat, they should embarrass their assailant by offering their shirt as well.
He was making a strong point. Jesus came into the world because of God’s love. It was – and still is – God’s love that will put the world to rights. God expects us to embrace this love: to love him who first loved us. God loves each one of us despite our faults. And he expects us to love those around us despite their faults.
When you wrong someone, you want to be treated with kindness and told your misdemeanour has been forgiven. Your enemies have the same feelings; they are awaiting your kindness and your forgiveness.
Something to do
Think about someone who has wronged you, and think hard about forgiving them in the privacy of your own heart. Then, if the opportunity should present itself, offer them your forgiveness.
Something to pray
Father … forgive us or trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us…
(from the Lord’s Prayer, based on Matthew 6:12 and Luke 11:4)
Today’s contributor is Keith Cakebread, a student training for ministry with the United Reformed Church at Westminster College, Cambridge