Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting Even

Have you ever been wronged? I don’t mean simple wrongdoing like a clerk at the grocery gave you the wrong change, or a waiter brought you the wrong drink. I’m talking about someone being truly mean spirited for no reason!

Our first instinct when we are mistreated is a natural survivor instinct to fight back. Whether it is with body language, verbally, or physically, we want to “get even”. But the Bible teaches two things concerning how we should react to being mistreated.

First, we have to fight the natural instinct to defend ourselves. As my Grandmother use to say, two wrongs don’t make a right! Romans 12:17-18 says, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” As for those folks that a mother couldn’t love, I suggest you find a way not to be near them! Avoidance is a wonderful tool to prevent conflict. Another equally worthy tool is humility. Matthew 5:39 says “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” A third tool you can use is love. The Bible teaches us that the best way to react to someone has wronged us is with love. It says in Proverbs 25:21-22 “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you. “ You can take the high road in a bad situation, and be promised that the Lord will reward you for it.

Second, we are to give God the opportunity to seek vengeance for us. In Romans 12:19 we read “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.“ Jeremiah 51:5 says, “For the LORD is the God of recompense, He will surely repay.” It can be very hard to just sit back and be mistreated while you wait on God to step in. But turn it over to God, and wait. No one can dish out vengeance as well as God!

One of my favorite stories of the Bible is of two men, Haman and Mordecai. Their story is told in the book of Esther. Haman was a very proud man, and a man of high social stature. In today’s terms, he’d be Mr. Snooty Patooty who lives at the corner of Rich and Famous. When Haman came around, all the people bowed in reverence to him. All, that is, except one, Mordecai.

Mordecai was Queen Esther’s Uncle and guardian. He refused to bow he was a Jew, and he worshipped only God. A Jew bowing to any man would be idolatry. Well, this didn’t set well with Mr. Better-Than-Thou Haman! He became so bitter about Mordecai’s refusal to reverence him that he went home sulking and whined to his family about how horrible Mordecai had treated him. And then he devised a plan, a plan that would not only cure him of Mordecai’s presence, but also abolish the Jews completely from the land! As if that wasn’t enough, he and Mrs. Haman plotted to hang Mordecai, and even built the gallows to hang him!

But what did Mordecai do? Nothing. Knowing the plot that Haman had devised to kill all the Jews, there is no doubt that he felt the wrath and anger Haman had for him every day. Haman would walk past him to enter the King’s Gate every day, and Mordecai did nothing to harm him. Instead, Mordecai tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and began to seek God’s attention. He told his niece, Queen Esther that Haman was trying to kill all the Jews, and she must make a stand to save her people. And then, Mordecai waited on God. He prayed and he fasted, as he convinced all the Jews to do. Yet, the gallows awaited him, and Haman’s anger was not quenched.

But then God takes control. While the King is unable to sleep one night he calls to have the minutes of his court read, thinking this would certainly put him to sleep! While the records are being recited, a record of a favor Mordecai had performed for the King was read. Years before, Mordecai had overheard two of the King’s eunuchs plotting to kill the King, and he’d sent word to the King and saved his life. The King then said to the servant reading the court minutes, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The King’s servants answered him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

Then in walks Haman to the Kings court. Haman is walking talk and carrying a big load of pride. He’s been the only one of the King’s court invited to dinner with the King and Queen Esther. He has even bragged to his family of how only he was chosen to attend. As he walks in, the King looked up, and said, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?”

Haman must have swelled up with pride like a nervous puffer fish! He began to think, “Oh boy, now is my chance! What should I ask for? What would make me happy for the king to do for me?” Then Haman decides what he would love best! He tells the king in Esther 6:7-9 “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’” Oh, no doubt Haman was even thinking which horse it would be, which robe he would desire, and how many times he’d be paraded through the city. It was going to be quite an event!

Then God seeks Mordecai’s revenge. In Esther 6:10 we read that the King said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the King’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.” Can you imagine the look on Haman’s face? He must have looked like he’d been slapped with a wet fish! Not only was Mordecai getting the praise and high position of honor with the King, but poor Haman was the one who had to proclaim his honor! We all have our tough days, but this one must have been a “kick the dog” kind of day for Haman!

Rest assured - leaving your vengeance in God’s hands is always best. Because God looks upon the heart, he knows the weakness of our enemy. He knows how best to defeat him. Give your anger and hurt feelings to God, and wait. When the time is right, God will rise up against your enemy, and you will be the one rewarded.

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