What's Your Response?

Have you ever had someone lie about you? Have you ever been stabbed in the back by someone you thought was your friend? Have you ever been mistreated by a coworker or family member? If so, what was your knee-jerk reaction to this treatment? Get mad. Get hurt. Get even. Am I right?

According to the Bible, that is altogether the wrong reaction. First of all, it is a reaction, which as we've discussed before, is based solely on emotion. As Christians, we are not supposed to react; we are supposed to respond. There is a difference. A response occurs when we take the matter to the Lord and ask for His direction in dealing with the situation. As a matter of fact, when it comes to situations where we feel betrayed, the Bible has already given us a clear-cut command on how to handle the situation.  This instruction can be found in Romans 12:19-21, which says, Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The first part of that commandment is easy enough to understand, but not so easy to put into practice. It's difficult to stand back and allow God to control the situation when we want so badly to execute revenge for the wrong that has been done to us. But the Bible is clear that it is not our place to take revenge. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, and no one else.

Another thing I've noticed is how people like to quote the first part of this passage but conveniently leave out the rest. Once we turn the matter of justice over to the Lord, our obligation is not complete. According to this passage, there is more for us to do, and the instruction is rather hard to swallow. In a nutshell, God commands that we go to our enemies, the ones who have hurt and betrayed us, and shower them with kindness. Doesn't that rub against the grain? We want to respond in kind, not in kindness. But what we want doesn't always jive with what God wants, does it?

The entire situation leads me back to thoughts of an earlier post about having a right. When someone has done us wrong, we feel we have a right to get even. We deem that we have a right for revenge. But according to the Scriptures, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, according to the above passage in Romans, the only right we have is to be filled with the Spirit and to allow His presence to flow through us in all that we say and do. That is our right and privilege!

So what is it going to be? Are you going to respond in kind or in kindness? Are you going to fulfill your will or the will of God? And above all, are you going to usurp God's authority by placing yourself as judge and jury against those who have done you wrong? Respond or react. The choice is yours.