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Wow Matt, seems we all have a personal insult that really gets us. Mine is the amount of The Beatles Halloween tree shirt I have and our choice of education & my marital status. It’s what I am addressed as, given to my identity. Makes people stand in awe or look at me as if I’m stupid. Id prefer neither. I’d prefer, “This is Amy – she is Much Loved”. My only REAL identity. The children thing I understand. We only have three right now but I grew up in a family of 8. I remember the comments people would make and the looks they’d give, and I always wanted to go up to those people and embarrass them for embarrassing my family. But my parents never responded to any of it. They acted like they didn’t notice. I always marveled at that. Still do.
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Don’t think that because I’m doing this Sermon on the Mount devotion that I’m some kind of saint, either. I have really slacked on consistently reading Scripture throughout my life. Butwhat I’ve found recently is that God really does speak to us through the Book. You can hear Him in your heart, pointing you to the passage that you really need in that moment. That has certainly been the case for me this week. For a few reasons, but mainly one in particular, I have been the subject of a much heavier barrage of insults than usual. And some of them have come from people in my line of work that I respected, and who I thought respected me. That’s been very frustrating and disappointing, but I’ve realized it’s no coincidence that God inspired me to start reading the Sermon this week. I didn’t really fully know why I was doing it at first, but I now I do. God was trying to tell me something. I just needed to open the Book and listen.
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You hold grudges and refuse to forgive others and you’re lost because of it. No matter how many eloquent platitudes you come up with on a daily basis. There is probably a lot of truth in what you’re saying. Forgiveness, I have found, is maybe the hardest thing of all. At least for me. In Bishop Robert Barron’s series Catholicism he tells two stories to illustrate what Jesus meant to turn the other cheek. One was about when St. Teresa of Calcutta picked up a starving child from the street she went to the baker’s shop and asked for some bread for the The Beatles Halloween tree shirt. The baker spit in her face. Mother Teresa said, “That was for me, but what can you give this child.” The other story was about Bishop Tutu. He came face to face with a man as both were walking in opposite directions on a board covering the muddy street. The man said, “I don’t step aside for gorillas!” Bishop Tutu said, “I do.” And stepped onto the muddy street to let the man by.
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Someone once told me that “turning the other cheek” was as much detrimental to the offender as the victim, as it forces the offender to think about his actions. The original slap may have been reactionary and in haste, but to slap the cheek that was offered put the offender in a position of deliberate, thoughtful sin, not to mention likely criticism of the community. Words for thought. Our family has been hurt in the recent past by accusations and misunderstandings and I felt God telling me not to respond, not to defend myself or my girls but let Him handle the situation. And just when I think I should still speak the truth about the situation to the accusers (because they didn’t ask for any clarification or questions to understand the situation) just hurled allegations, God always sends a reminder to let it go and He will handle it. Thanks for being his mouthpiece and speaking this truth yet again to my heart.
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Another powerful thought is the word Meek. Today we define meek as in weak, unable, wimp and so on. In truth, Meek is an attitude of not responding, remaining quiet – when we are personally being attacked – which in fact is strength. It takes strength of character to stand quietly and not respond. Jesus was meek, yet He was/is one of the strongest men of Character we know. I have reached the place where I will not defend, debate or try to set straight anything about my character. If someone wants to KNOW the The Beatles Halloween tree shirt, they will come talk to me about it. Otherwise nothing I say or do is going to change their minds. As Proverbs says “do not correct a fool”. Stand firm, and know you are making a difference for God’s kingdom by what you write and say. One day the truth will be known to every fool, – and I will really feel sorry for them.