“Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54 ESV) James and John said in unison. The disciples were bothered that the Samaritans didn’t receive Jesus as He traveled through Samaria on His way to Jerusalem. The disciples didn’t believe in equal opportunity for these Samaritan men they perceived to be enemies. Can you imagine James and John’s surprise when Jesus rebuked them rather than the Samaritans? Jesus knew the Samaritans misinterpreted His troubled face as disdain.
How could Jesus be happy at a time like this? He had an inner joy but His countenance showed He was wrestling with His greatest mission—to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin. Jesus knew it would be a matter of days before He would hang on Calvary’s cross, and be separated from the Father in order to bear the burden of every person’s transgression. Jesus would battle evil with holiness, and because He was sinless, He would overcome. He would purchase with His own life’s blood this marvelous gift called “salvation.” Expectedly, Jesus’ countenance showed His distress.
But, perhaps also, some of Jesus’ heartache was because the disciples who had walked with Him for three years were still falling short of showing kindness to the lost and dying world He was called to pay the penalty of sin for. Here, two of His trusted three were ready to incinerate the Samaritans. In contrast, He was ready to step into the flames of Hell in order to save them.
Jesus longed for His disciples to understand sacrificial grace…
Grace upon enemies and friends alike is the character Jesus wanted His disciples to emulate. And yet here they were—two of the trusted three who comprised his inner circle—showing the opposite character He wanted them to comprehend.
If these men were falling short, we can only imagine how the other disciples were grappling with Jesus’ good news message.
Perhaps, as the disciples journeyed further, Jesus repeated portions of The Sermon on the Mount, “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 ESV)”
If I’m totally honest, I have to admit I’m like James and John at times. It goes against my fleshly nature to be kind to an enemy. Don’t get me wrong; God does judge the truly unrepentant, but only He knows a person’s inner man and His kindness extends far beyond what I view as possible.
If I take Jesus at His Word and show kindness to an enemy, and pray for them, what can this accomplish? My witness just might be that person’s saving grace. Hebrews 7:25 ESV reads, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Jesus, the Great Intercessor, prays for people. I must follow His example. And, when it is practical, I must reach out to them like Jesus did….
Did the Samaritans who made Jesus’ Jerusalem journey troublesome, deserve grace? Probably not. Jesus showed them grace anyway.
Did the thieves who died alongside Jesus deserve grace? No, they did not. Jesus showed kindness anyway, and one of these thieves transformed into a son of the kingdom of light. To this man, He said, “Truly, I say unto you, today you will be with me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43 ESV)” Both men had equal opportunity to receive forgiveness. One accepted.
Do I deserve Jesus’ grace? I do not. But He showers love upon me anyway. He does the same for you, sweet friend. Knowing this should make us eager to show grace to every person God sends our way.
When we show kindness and patience, and share the love of God to an enemy, will this result in the person’s transformation? Sometimes it will; other times it won’t make a difference that we can see the results of. For the times we don’t see a difference, we must keep in mind the wounds some people carry are so great it will take a repetition of believers sowing seeds of kindness before they will be willing to receive.
When we show kindness, this leads a sinner towards repentance. Romans 2:4b NASV reads, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
Let’s make the decision to be an equal opportunity giver of kindness and of grace.
I think back to the person who led me to the Lord. Because of her kind responses even when I was testing her, I realized the relationship she had with Jesus was genuine. My friend’s patience enabled me to desire a relationship with Christ too, and this resulted in my salvation. I’m guessing you have a similar testimony….
It’s time to trust the Lord to fill our hearts with grace so the words that flow from our mouths are kind even when an individual is being unkind. The more we practice, the more souls we will win into the kingdom.
Lord Jesus, help me to be an equal opportunity giver of kindness and a conduit of Your grace.
Equal Opportunity is a true story.
Copyright © 2019: Equal Opportunity: Diane Virginia Cunio: Pen Name, Diane Virginia: All Rights Reserved: https://vinewords.net/equal-opportunity/