“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27
Carole, as class monitor, was forced to report that one of her seventh-grade classmates had been acting up during their teacher’s absence. Joyce, an explosive brunet, threatened to clobber Carole at afternoon recess. Scared and miserable, Carole fled home for lunch and poured out her tale of woe to her mother. “Carole, take her an apple,” said her mother calmly. “Take her an apple!” wailed Carole. “What good will that do? She’s ready to pull out my hair!” “I know,” said her mother. “But the Bible says to do good to those who are spiteful to you. It also says that a soft answer turns away wrath. Try it!”
After lunch, Carole reluctantly placed a shiny red apple on Joyce’s desk and mumbled, “I’m sorry you are so angry.” Joyce was speechless. Finally she stammered, “Well…well…I guess I deserved it.” The situation was defused, and Carole and Joyce eventually became friends.
It can be difficult for children (as well as their parents!) to wholeheartedly embrace Jesus’ instruction to “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28). They feel that their adversaries deserve a different response. But Christ is unequivocal in His direction. We are to follow the Lord’s example, who offers us love that we don’t deserve: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
Do you pray for your “enemies” in the presence of your children?
What would happen if your family tried a “soft answer” in the face of wrath?
Almighty God, Your ways are the best ways for the living of our days. Help us to teach our children about Your mercy and to model it ourselves. May we respond to others with love and compassion, just as You do toward us. Amen.
Illustration adapted from “Do What?” by Carole Mayhall. © 1997.