Our friends started calling me Clark Griswold during this past summer’s trip to Israel. Chevy Chase played the character in the old Vacation movies, but surely I’m not in his category…

It is true though: if you make one or two mistakes along the way, you gain a reputation. Directions are not my strength and quick decisions sometimes get me in trouble. On our second day in Israel, searching for a lunch spot during a drive from Tel Aviv to Caesarea, I made an improper turn that resulted in us going the wrong direction on a one-way curve. Four ladies in the first car we met pointed and yelled unintelligible words as I tried to pull the car as far to the right of the road as possible.

Unable to retreat, I continued slowly around the curve and met a Barbara Streisand look-alike driving an expensive car. As she braked and started to shout, I lowered my window and mouthed: “I’m sorry…” The kind lady smiled, put her hands together in a prayer-like gesture, bowed her head slightly, and blessed me.

Thankfully, I found a way off the road… but the damage to my image as a good driver was done. The Wilsons laughed uncontrollably in the back seat, but Susan was not amused. We quickly found a place to eat and I tried to change the subject.

Why did Jesus teach us to bless rather than curse (even the ones who deserved cursing)? He wants us all to reflect our Father… who constantly blesses. On the road, I was in the wrong and deserved to be reprimanded (or even arrested), but the kind blessing of a stranger administered forgiveness. “I did not come to condemn the world, but to save it,” our humble Savior said.

In a world full of lawsuits, retaliation, cursing, and violence, Jesus says: “Show the Father. He is patient and kind and full of mercy. Bless those who don’t deserve it; smile at those who scowl; love those who hate; be like the One who can set the prisoners free.”

“Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you… Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another before yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:9-15

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