Compassion For Cats
- December 02, 2015
- Jack Barr
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?
This afternoon, I went home to let my dog, Crosby, out of the house for a few minutes. While Crosby was outside, I decided to lie down on the couch for a moment. After a few minutes of rest, I heard a commotion outside. Immediately, I went outside to see a proud street cat standing over a whimpering Crosby. My best guess is that the street cat had jumped off our gate and had given Crosby a thrashing for being a dog. At first, I was ashamed that my dog had taken a “beat down” from a cat. But soon after, I became very defensive because a cat had smacked around my wimpy dog (miniature poodle). I don’t like cats in general, so I started yelling and stomping at the cat to show my dominance. But, instead of the cat scurrying away, that prideful little animal started hissing and moving towards me.
Suddenly I yelled at the cat, “Ok, lets see how tough you are after I get Jana’s pepper spray out of the house!” But, as soon as I turned my back and walked towards the house, I heard a painful, loud meow that caused me to stop. I turned around and saw something different in its eyes; a sense of bitterness, pain, suffering, loneliness, and fear. And even though I wanted to lash out on that little nasty cat for bullying my dog, the only thing that I could think of at that moment was somehow to love my enemies.
It was only a cat. But that dispute made me reflect this week on how easy it is for me to hate my enemies. When someone hurts my family, my country, or my faith; I often respond with some sort of vengeance, no matter how small.
“God will punish you!” “You will be condemned on judgment day!” “Feel free to hate me because the Bible says you would!”
These responses spoken by a follower of Christ are extremely dangerous. As believers, we cannot ignore the passage above that commands us to love our enemies. What is more difficult that loving someone that has hurt you, hurt your family, or insulted your faith?
For the past year, I have been weightlifting and training on a heavy bag in our gym at ICS. In the evenings, when I furiously punch the heavy bag, I envision someone saying something inappropriate to Marley. The fear of my daughter being insulted by any enemy motivates me to fight them, instead of love them. Obviously, this is not the response Jesus describes in Matthew. For me, it would be a lot easier if the passage said, “Jack, when someone insults your daughter, punch him or her in the face.”
Nevertheless, I have realized after a time of reflection that in many situations in my life, I have chosen to approach with predetermined hate. Our responses as believers should never change. You can be like me and try to rationalize this passage, but Jesus calls us to love during times of hurt and suffering. Recently, I read that a young pastor lost his wife and unborn child to a home invasion. His response was to love and forgive. Maybe one day, with God’s grace, I can learn to fully live out the verse found in Matthew 5:46.
“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?