What is your distinguishing feature? Jimmy Durante had a BIG nose. Baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter has huge hands. Celine Dion, a five-octave range. Shaq, enormous feet (size 23 shoes). Vin Scully, the voice of summer. And Ross Perot has ears that were a source of endless fun for editorial cartoonists.
Just in case you are wondering, my distinctive feature is the Kiedis chin. I got it from my dad and have passed it on to our children. It is quite narrow, quite pronounced, and quite . . . quite distinct!
Jesus was interested in distinctive traits. At one point, he had a little chat with his disciples about a distinguishing feature which they possessed. It was a characteristic that should become most pronounced when they came face-to-face with an enemy:
You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.’ But I say, don’t resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other too. If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.(Matthew 5:38-42 NLT)
The heart of Jesus’ message is found in that phrase, “don’t resist an evil person.” That's hard. When an enemy makes life tough, I want to retaliate:
- “Oh, they are going to insult me are they? I’ll tell them a thing or two.”
- “Are they going to sue? I’ll counter sue!”
- “So the boss wants this done NOW does he? He’ll just have to wait!”
- “More solicitors on the phone? Let me give them a piece of my mind.”
The urge to retaliate is strong! Monday, I was battling heavy traffic. Thousands of Labor Day travelers were vying for space on a rain-soaked Florida Turnpike. Most drivers were polite; a few were jerks. The guy in the white Lexus was one of the jerks. Maybe he was late for a date. Maybe he thought this was his NASCAR tryout. Either way he was in the right lane, just spitting distance from the car in front of him. He was doing all he could to gain the upper hand and squeeze in just ahead of me in the left lane.
I wish I could tell you that I conceded the space. I would like to say that I took the proverbial high road in a gracious gesture to preserve peace. I did not. I have seen his move a hundred times. So traveling way too fast on a road way too slick, I inched up even closer to the car in front of me. There was NO WAY he could sneak in.
I should have been sitting on the mountain side with Jesus. I should have taken to heart what he said: “Child of mine, you have a distinguishing feature that your world needs to see, feel, touch and experience. It is called grace -- unmerited and undeserved favor. Don’t give your 'enemy' what he deserves; give that person what he needs.”
We look most like our Father when his grace is given free reign in our lives. Grace is willing to feel the slap of sarcasm without slapping back. Grace shows love to those who don't deserve it. Grace goes the extra mile -- even on the Florida Turnpike.
Every white Lexus needs a glimpse of God. And it sees Him when his grace is evident in me. Today, don’t give your “enemies” what they deserve, give them what they need: grace!
STAY FOCUSED TODAY: Be on the lookout for distinguishing features: big noses, deep set eyes, lanky frames, or big hands. Let them remind you of God's distinguishing feature–grace. And then ask God to help you show that distinguishing feature to a world in need.