In Matthew 5: 38-43, Jesus taught us how to deal with our enemies. It was strange advice. Christ said if a man hits you on the cheek, let him hit the other cheek and if a man takes your shirt then offer him your coat.
It was the exact opposite of how we would want to react in these type of situations. So what was the purpose of this?
I believe one of the things that Jesus was telling us is that we need to take the initiative, be proactive, in situations where we could be offended. God is calling us to make the peace.
And this is exactly the situation that Kathie Lee Gifford found herself in with Howard Stern.
Kathie, 64, is a singer, song writer, actress and co-host of NBC’s Today show. She is also an outspoken Christian. Howard Stern, 64, is a radio and television personality and is best known for the Howard Stern Show and has earned the reputation as a “shock jock.”
On an episode of the Today show earlier this year, Kathie talked about a conflict that had been brewing between her family and Howard Stern for nearly three decades:
“Howard Stern had a feud with me going on 30 years. I never met him. I never listened to his show. He hated my guts for 30 years. Hated my husband, hated my children. Hated everything I stood for.”
At one point, Stern had called Kathie the “world’s dumbest person.” Kathie never went into any details about the source of this problem, but in 2012, she did a very unusual thing to resolve this long-standing issue.
She was in the make-up room preparing for her show, when she found out Howard Stern was also in the studio. He was there to promote a new NBC show that he was part of — a remake of America’s Got Talent. Stern was one of the judges.
God told her to get out of the chair and say hello to Howard Stern. Of course, it was the exact opposite of how a person would normally want to react in this type of situation.
But nevertheless, Kathie did what God asked her to do:
“I’m standing right there, he’s 6’6″ and I’m 5’5″ with flat shoes and I go, ‘Howard, Howard. I’m Kathie Lee. I thought it was time I say hello. I want to wish you the very best with your show.’ And I left. He was really flabbergasted.”
But it didn’t stop there.
A short time later, Stern called leaving a voicemail asking Kathie to call him. In the conversation that followed, Stern asked:
“Will you forgive me, Kathie, please? I’m doing some hard work on my life. I know I hurt you. I’m so sorry and I need to ask you to forgive me.”
Of course Kathie forgave him. In fact she had forgiven him 30 years earlier when it started and had been praying for Stern ever since.
But she did more than that. Kathie went that extra step.
She told Howard that he was doing the work he was supposed to do. Further she said that Stern was doing important work.
Kathie honored Stern.
Here is the key. Kathie not only forgave Howard Stern but she wanted the best for him.
The message here is bless the person who is attacking you. Sincerely bless them. Wish the best for them. Want the best for them. Bless them so they succeed.
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:28 NASV)
Pray for their success.
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44 NASV)
We don’t do this as some have suggested to put hot coals on their head as a way of making them feel bad for what they have done. God genuinely wants all people, Christian or otherwise, to succeed in life. God wants to bless people, even our enemies, and wants us to be part of this.
If God leads, pray for Howard Stern.