A little over a year ago, I had a coworker who was the closest thing to an enemy I have ever had. There is no need to go into antics and attitudes; it is suffice to say that we did not get along or like each other. One day, he wanted to run out to grab some lunch. Our office was a few blocks, walking distance, from a number of restaurants, but he didn’t feel like walking, so he asked me if he could borrow my car to run and grab some lunch. With my whole being I wanted to tell him “no” in many different ways, most of them of the not-very-nice variety.
If it had been someone I got along with, someone I would refer to as a friend, there wouldn’t have been any hesitation. I probably would have tossed them the keys and made a joke about making sure they filled it up before they returned it. As I handed the keys over, presuming that any joke would be met with a snarky remark, I didn’t say much, if anything, as he headed out the door.
Another coworker, who was very aware of my “displeasure” with working with this individual looked at me in shock and said, “Why didn’t you just say no?” I turned to her and said, “I couldn’t think of a good reason not to let him.” The only justification I had for my actions was that the Bible instructs to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).
Using Scripture to justify one’s actions isn’t a new phenomenon. Throughout history, including events recorded in the Bible, people have used God’s word to justify their actions, both good and bad. While I am sure you can think of many examples, at least one has been in the news recently, the truth is that if you are using the Bible to justify your actions, it should only be because you are showing more mercy than was to be expected, or more grace than others would, or more love than is required. The Bible should never be used as justification for hate, causing harm or treating others in any way that you would not welcome on yourself.
We have all heard the “Golden Rule”, and while there are many different wordings, Jesus made sure to give us the example we should follow – “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). What makes Jesus’ phrasing unique is that, while other versions of the Golden Rule focus on not doing harm, Jesus opens the door to going above and beyond the norm. In other words, Jesus is not just saying “don’t be mean to each other”; He is saying “go out of your way to be nice to each other.”
Now, my story above is not the norm for me. It is the most extreme example from my life I could think of, and even at that, it wasn’t like I did it with a joyful spirit. In truth, I try to be nice and treat others with respect, but I seldom find myself doing something that others would react to as more than what is expected. So as I reflect on the world around me, I am resolved to make sure that I am erring on the side of love so that I might be a light in this world. That way if I am ever asked why my actions were out-of-line with what was anticipated, I can gladly say “because the Bible says…”