Just do it…Now!

This is my new favorite T-shirt.   Unfortunately, the saying applies to many of us in many areas of our lives.  I know that it definitely applies to me.

I’m going to go on that diet…later.    I’m going to start saving for retirement…later.    I’m going to paint that pool fence…later.     I’m going to work to develop those creative areas of my life…later.     I’m going to work to get rid of those nagging habits…later.   I’m finally going to get my act together…later.

Notice the repetitive “I’m going to.”  It occurred to me that, while the T-shirt is humorous, it also made me aware of how self-absorbed I can be.  While it’s good to get things done and improve our own lives, it’s even better to get things done to improve the lives of others.

As time goes on, people are going to be self-absorbed… (ouch!) self-promoting…dog-eat-dog…the kind…who smooth talk…and take advantage.  By the way, this is almost a direct quote from the Bible (II Timothy 3:1-6) Not the “ouch” part—that part was me.

If you think I’m wrong, try sliding into a parking space another motorist wants. Or watch shoppers in a checkout line elbowing one another to save thirty seconds.  And how about your seat in church; you know, the one you’ve been warming for thirty years?

When I think about what I should be doing, I look back to the Bible where Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Be humble and consider others more important than yourselves.  Care about them as much as you care about yourselves.”  Jesus said, “Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” (Matthew 7:12)

And do it now!

The enemy of my enemy….

Sun Tzu is credited with the phrase, The enemy of my enemy is my friend, around the 6th century BC.  Within a few years, it made its way to what is now the Middle East and eventually to the Western world.  So, when Jesus talked about enemies and friends, people had a pre-conceived idea about how the two would typically interact.

But what He said was totally new to those He spoke to.   Jesus is quoted in both Matthew (22:39) and Mark (12:31) as saying, Love your neighbor as yourself.  And when Paul writes to the Romans (13:10), he emphasized that love does no harm to a neighbor.  And, who is our neighbor?  Luke quotes Jesus’s story of the Good Samaritan who, despite being despised by the Jewish people, saved and took care of one them at his own expense.  So those who we consider our enemies can treat us like friends.  Sounds like the “Golden Rule” to me,  Do to others as you would like them to do to you (Luke 6:3).

Jesus also said, 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 (Matthew 5:43-44).  What a concept that must have been for those who believed, the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’ (Matthew 5:38).  If followed literally, there would a lot of blind and toothless people.  Instead, Jesus added, But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.…Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you ( Matthew 5:38-42).

Being kind or helpful should not be limited to our family and friends.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same (Matthew 5:46-47)?  Isn’t that what’s supposed to make us different from the people of the world?  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).

It’s unfortunate that many people who claim to be Christians, can’t get along with others who also claim to be Christians.  The whole concept of denominations seems to be very destructive of showing our love to the world.  Jesus said,  “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

John said to Jesus, Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.  But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.  For he who is not against us is for us (Mark 9:38-40 and Luke 9:49-50).

He who is not against us is for us….The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Satan is the enemy of mankind.  Many Christians are against him.  It’s time we start banding together to do battle with him.