Tough Love – Today’s Family Devotion

Tough Love


Bible Reading of the Day: Read Matthew 5:43-45.

Verse of the Day: “Love your enemies! Do good to them!” (Luke 6:35).

Stefanie and Julia whispered to each other near the fish pond at the Sunday-school picnic. They watched and waited as Jasmine stopped by the shallow, rock-lined pool to watch the goldfish swim in the clear water.

The two girls strolled closer and closer to Jasmine. Finally, Stefanie pretended to trip, and fell against Jasmine, pushing her into the water. Jasmine landed face first in the pool, splashing and spluttering loudly as she struggled back to her feet.

“You did that on purpose!” she screamed.

Stefanie didn’t answer her because, like everyone else in the class, she was laugh­ing too hard. Suddenly, however, she felt a hand grip her elbow, and her Sunday-school teacher whirled her around.

“Stefanie and Julia,” Miss Penny said, “go wait for me inside, please.”

Stefanie and Julia waited at Miss Penny’s kitchen table. The teacher passed through the room with a sobbing, wet Jasmine and returned a few minutes later.

“Jasmine’s getting changed,” she said. “I want you both to know I saw what happened, and I’m very disappointed in you both. That was a hateful thing to do.”

Julia started to cry, but Stefanie spoke up. “She would have done the same thing to us!” she said. “Isn’t that right, Julia?” Her friend nodded through her tears. “Jasmine’s always being mean to me and Julia.”

“So,” Miss Penny asked, “you’re saying that what you did was OK because you did it to Jasmine?”

“Well, yeah,” Stefanie answered. “She’s mean to us.”

“I want you girls to listen to what you’re saying. You’re saying that you decided it would be all right to act hatefully toward Jasmine. But since when do you get to decide what’s right or what’s wrong?”

“But, Miss Penny, you should hear the things she says about us!” Stefanie whined.

Miss Penny shrugged. “That may be true, but that doesn’t change the facts. Fact one: You don’t decide what’s right or wrong, God does. Right?” The girls nodded sullenly. “And fact two: God says ‘love your neighbor.’ He even says ‘love your enemies.’ So what does that say about what you did to Jasmine?”

“It was wrong,” Julia said, speaking up for the first time.

“What else?” Miss Penny asked.

“We need to go apologize to Jasmine,” Stefanie answered.

“That’s a fact!” Miss Penny said.

TO DISCUSS: Do you ever try to decide right and wrong yourself, instead of accepting what God has revealed on the subject? Why or why not? Who is your “neighbor”? What can you do today to love your “neighbor” and an “enemy”?

TO PRAY: “Lord, help us to do what you say is right and avoid what you say is wrong.”