I am sure that many of you have heard the story of the Japanese believer who was highly irritated by the arrogance and disregard that his neighbour had for him and his work. The story is said to be true which makes it all the more encouraging.

There were two Japanese rice farmers who shared adjacent fields that were separated by a clay wall. The one farmer was a Christian and very hard working whilst the other farmer was not and was extremely lazy.

The Christian farmer worked hard to prepare his fields so that he could plant his rice seed and enjoy the harvest that would come from his work. The other farmer, however, was lazy and reluctant to do anything with very much effort and, once the seed was sown, he decided that his work for the year was complete.

The problem, however, was that the fields had to be watered every day and this took a great deal of time and work.

The Christian dutifully tended to his field but found that when he woke up the next morning, his land was dry. Perplexed he looked as to why this could be and found that his neighbour had broken down part of the clay wall and had allowed his neighbour’s water to run into his own field without any effort. The Christian was indignant (naturally) and wanted to go over to his neighbour and exact some deserved justice.

He however paused and thought that before he acted in such a rash manner that he should just repair the wall and carry on with life. This he did and watered his field again.

When the sun rose he found his field dry with the clay wall once again breached. It was too much now and on his way to confront his neighbour he happened to cross paths with his pastor. His pastor asked him why he looked so angry and where he was going.

The man explained the situation and thought the pastor would encourage him to go and sort the matter out … and perhaps even accompany him for support.

The pastor however said that instead of meeting the arrogance with aggression and irritation, he should rather show mercy and kindness, as Christ would, and that he should water his neighbour’s fields first and then only his own and, by doing so, his neighbour would no longer break his wall down during the night.

The Christian was flabbergasted, as you can imagine. He, however, knew that there was some wisdom in what he was saying although a wisdom that was not of this world. He watered his neighbour’s field and then his own. He did this for many weeks without as much as a thank you or a kind word from his neighbour. He felt used, foolish and weak because he was aware of what the village was saying about him.

When the time for the harvest came, both farmers harvested their rice and sold it at a great profit. Surely now his neighbour would thank him … but nothing came.

The next season for sowing came and he thought that he would have to repeat the process of the previous season.

His neighbour, however, came to him one night and asked him why he did what he did. After all showing mercy was the last thing that he had expected. Why did his neighbour suffer the long days of hard work for him without any thanks or any indication that he was going to see a change?

It was then that the Christian realized that during that time of struggle he was actually being a visual representation of Christ to his neighbour. He shared the love of Jesus with this cruel man and the man accepted Jesus as his own Lord and Saviour.

I don’t know about you friends but whenever I think of this story I think that it is perhaps a bridge too far for me and that I would really struggle to “turn the other cheek” for so long and especially after I saw no change. I would have very probably wanted to see the change immediately, to give the man not “70 times 7” chances at redemption but probably, if I was in a good place, around 2 opportunities to mend his ways and to accept Jesus as his Saviour.

I would have written this man off long before I should have … I would have probably not even have given the first chance because he would not be somebody I would regard as deserving to hear of the love and salvation to be found in Jesus.

Naturally, I say this with no pride but rather with a heart that so wishes to be in place with our Lord that would have made this story of redemption applicable to my life.

Friends, what about you? How does this story affect you when you read it and what would your response have been? Would you have “walked the extra mile” and “turned the other cheek” … would you have even taken that first step of redemption for him?

I think the answer to this is quite simple. When last have you been Jesus to someone else or when last have you shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with anybody … an enemy or a friend? Our actions convict or absolve us which is at times very difficult for me to accept. We need to be as gentle as doves and not just as wise as serpents, although the former is more practiced than the latter.

Lotsaluv

Mark