Tag Archives: retaliation

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

2 Samuel 13-14

Absalom had murdered his brother Amnon. Yes, Amnon had raped and discarded their sister Tamar, and Absalom’s hatred for Amnon had festered for two years. But the fact remains: Absalom murdered Amnon in cold blood.

After the murder, Absalom ran to his grandfather and hid out there. Eventually he’d be allowed to return to his home in Jerusalem, but his father David would refuse to see him. This rejection went on for a while until Joab convinced David to reunite with his son.

I share all of that to tell you what Absalom said about seeing his father after all those years he’d been banished:

Let me see the king; if he finds me guilty of anything, then let him kill me. (2 Samuel 14:32b)

Do you wonder about that statement? Guilty of anything? You mean like murdering your brother, Absalom? Guilty like that?

What was he thinking? Did Absalom not carry any guilt over what he’d done? It appears not. That just seems absurd to me.

But it just reminds me that any of us can (and do) justify sin in our own lives. We might say or do something to someone thinking they deserve it, so that let’s us off the hook. We can’t be “guilty” if they started it, right?

The thing is, I don’t think God ever goes along with our rationalizations, our own sense of fairness, our excuses. I’m pretty sure sin is sin in God’s eyes, and the wages of any and all sin is death, no matter who started it or why we think we were entitled to sin considering the circumstances.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s true. But also true is the fact that two sins don’t cancel out the serious consequences of sin.

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.

Numbers 12; Without My Two Cents

Moses’ own siblings, Aaron and Miriam, were talking about Moses behind his back. They complained about his wife, and were¬†jealous of his following. And, like most gossip, their complaints got back to Moses.

How did he react? The Bible tells us “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (12:3)

Sounds like Moses “turned the other cheek.” There is no record that he defended himself. Oh, say something against God and Moses would be in your face. Say something about Moses, and he’ll either ignore you, or go to God about it.

As it turned out, God handled it without Moses doing a thing.

It’s unrealistic to think, especially for those of you in positions of authority, that everyone is going to love and/or agree with you all the time. (Ask President Trump). But I’ve found that often, when I react to gossip, or try to defend myself, I can make matters worse.

That’s not to say that there aren’t times when God will prompt us to speak up against gossip or slander or threats of some kind. Then, I believe, He’ll give us the words to say to bring about a solution that brings glory to Himself. But unless I know He is nudging me toward action, I’d like to react like Matthew Henry says Moses reacted: He, as a deaf man, heard not.

I want to learn from Moses’ example. I want to learn when to just keep my mouth shut. I want to learn that if God thinks it’s necessary to defend me, He’s able to do that without my two cents.