Growth on a Concrete Past

Jesus said we must love our enemies. Many verses (both Old and New Testament) describe what that looks like.

From the Old Testament:

“When you encounter your enemy’s ox or ass wandering, you must take it back to him.

When you see the ass of your enemy lying under its burden and would refrain from raising it, you must nevertheless raise it with him.” – Exodus 23:4-5 (TNK)

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;

If he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

You will be heaping live coals on his head,

And the Lord will reward you.” – Proverbs 25:21-22 (TNK)

From the New Testament:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” – Luke 6:27-28 (ESV)

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12 (ESV)

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12 (ESV)

Social media is an unforgiving place. It’s been around long enough that things we’ve written a decade ago are still around for people to see–and judge. People far too often find themselves being condemned (some have lost their jobs, college scholarships, homes and family, while others have been so destroyed, they ended up killing themselves). Not one of those people judging them took into consideration that the person has grown and changed.

Yet too many forget the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), especially when it comes to entertainers, politicians and other famous people. We automatically assume that, based on past bad acts (real or merely accused), when they do something good, their motives are impure. We condemn them regardless–as if we can know their mind, and it’ll be forever unchanged.

I’ll bet if you go through my many entries of this blog, you’ll find entries where I was indeed wrong, and have since changed my mind. I would hope that anyone who reads them will at least give me the benefit of the doubt and ask if I still feel that way or not.

As I’m sure you would, too.

We also give that same courtesy to those we love. When they do something wrong, our first thought is, “Why would they do such a thing?” We don’t ascribe bad motive and condemn them automatically; we instead ask them why, and assume they perhaps had a legitimate reason.

We need to do better in giving people–all people–room to grow. We can’t change the past, but we can change our mind, learn and grow. So, too, can our enemies. Because, like it or not, we all have enemies, and I think we all hope they would love us as Jesus loves us–and give us equal benefit of the doubt when our wrongdoing is brought to light. Just like our loved ones do.

No one is above–or below–that level of grace. Jesus did that for us, and he expects us to do the same.

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