Tag Archives: an eye for an eye

There Is No Justification

Judges 15

“They started it.”

How many times did I, as a middle school counselor, hear that excuse for bad behavior? Lots! Now here in Judges we read where Samson – who wasn’t an adolescent at the time, but a grown man – uses the same mistaken logic:

“I only did what they did to me.”

Dear one, retaliation is never acceptable. The score is never evened out. It just isn’t.

What did Jesus say about how we should treat people who aren’t necessarily fair to us?

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

I think we are seeing the result of years of telling children they “shouldn’t” be bullied, or that they have a “right” to be treated fairly. There are way too many young adults on medication for depression these days. Turn on the news and see the number of incidents of violence cause by angry and vengeful people in our world.

Instead of giving them healthy coping skills, we’ve made them life-long victims. Instead of encouraging them to control their own behavior, we tell them they can control the behavior of others if they are just tougher than they are.

But the truth is, we live in a sinful world. And people will fail us. We will fail them. Bad things happen. And people aren’t always treated fairly.

Think of what happened recently when Will Smith “protected” his wife by slapping Chris Rock for saying something stupid. Smith didn’t protect his wife from bodily harm. He retaliated because she got her feelings hurt. It wasn’t self defense. It was assault.

Yet there are people who applaud Smith for his loyalty to his wife, saying Rock deserved it.

Really?

Love your enemies. Pray for those who do you wrong.

What happened at the Oscars is not an isolated incident. You see the same mindset every day in the form of gossip, slander, FaceBook jail, cancel culture, and on the highways with road rage. We see it every day in the news, in gang violence, nasty divorces, and on and on and on.

Would you say that makes for a happy and healthy world?

If we would just live according to the Law of God, we wouldn’t be talking about the likes of Will Smith. We wouldn’t worry that some kid will take a gun to school because people aren’t being nice to him. We wouldn’t read about eight year old kids losing their lives because they got caught in the middle of a drive by shooting.

There just isn’t any justification for any of it. My prayer is that if you, or I, find ourselves wanting to even out a score, to get back at someone for doing something we didn’t like, we will stop and pray. Then figure out a way to show God’s love to that person instead.

Don’t tell me you can’t do that because they don’t deserve it for hurting you. Tell that to God. He’s the one who told you to love and pray for them. And because He’s the one who instructed us to do it, I have to believe that is the best thing for you and the other person.

And probably the best thing for our world.

May 19 – It Works!

2 Samuel 19-21

So the other day we read where Shimei threw stones and shouted insults to King David. Do you remember how David reacted? He didn’t. He ignored Shimei, and kept walking.

Today we read the rest of the story. Beginning in 19:16 we see Shimei running to meet the king. Absalom is dead. David is the victor. 1,000 men including Shimei met David and his warriors at the Jordan River and helped them cross.

Shimei fell at David’s feet, and begged for forgiveness. David’s men thought Shimei should be put to death for having treated David so badly earlier. David told them to back off. Shimei would not die.

That, my friend, is a picture of grace. It’s a picture of me and Jesus. I was as guilty as Shimei. But Jesus forgave me when I asked Him to. He gave me life instead of death, like David gave to Shimei.

It’s also a picture of what can happen when God’s people keep the course. When we refuse to repay evil with evil. When we love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us.

By our example, may people be drawn to their Savior.

April 4 -Revenge

Judges 13-15

Samson is an interesting character. From the moment he was conceived his mother didn’t drink alcohol. His parents raised him to be set apart for God’s work. Samson acted differently, and looked different from everybody else.

God used Samson in amazing ways. He killed a lion with his bare hands, a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey. Yet he had terrible taste in women, seemed to have no common sense, and made revenge a driving force in his life.

When the men of Judah came to him and asked him why on earth he would burn the Philistine crops, Samson answered like a two year old. “They started it.”

Is revenge a right? When someone wrongs you, are you entitled to payback? Doesn’t the Bible say something about an eye for an eye?

I used to tell kids in my school that revenge is like a game of tennis. Someone serves the ball into your court by being mean to you, so you hit the ball back to them by doing something back at them. Does the game of tennis stop after both players hit the ball just once?

Well, it might when I’m playing. But that’s not the point.

When the ball is hit into the player’s court, he or she does everything possible to hit it back into the opponent’s court. The game stops only when someone quits hitting the ball.

Does getting revenge ever solve the problem? Does it ever even the score? Or does it make the problem grow? Read these chapters in Judges and see how living for revenge worked for Samson.

What does Jesus say? Love your enemies. Do good to those who harm you. Paul tells us to overcome evil with good.

I wonder how Samson’s story would have ended if he had learned that lesson.

I wonder how your story will end.