Be the better person

revenge 1Be the better person?

Yeah, right. We all know the theory, but in practice, who doesn’t look for revenge, even in the smallest, most insignificant way when someone hurts us or humiliates us?

That’s just basic human nature, isn’t it?

Well, David sets a really good example in 1 Samuel 24.

He had been badly treated by Saul for some time now.

Really badly treated.

Saul has tried to kill him himself.

He has sent his men to kill him.

He has ordered his son Jonathan, David’s best friend to kill him.

David has served Saul and defeated armies for him and this is how Saul has repaid him.

David is hiding in caves, fleeing for his life, unable to live a normal life.

He has every reason to seek revenge.

caveHis men know that. That is why when Saul comes into a cave to relieve himself (the very cave where David and his men are hiding), David’s men see this as the ideal opportunity to get even. Here is David’s tormentor caught literally in the most vulnerable of situations – midflow! –

“This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’”  1 Samuel 24:4

Come on! Seize the day! You may never get another opportunity like this again!

David will not hurt his king though, whatever his king has done to him. He creeps forward and cuts a piece off Saul’s robe, which he immediately regrets –

Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.”   1 Samuel 24:5-6

David seeks reconciliation with this man who has treated him so badly. He bows down in front of him. He shows him the piece of cloth. He calls him father. He shows he has no weapons and no desire to hurt Saul. He recognises that Saul is accountable to God for his actions and no one else –

And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.  1 Samuel 24:12

He will not lower himself to Saul’s level by behaving in the same way –

As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.  1 Samuel 24:13

And Saul’s reaction?

He wept.

He had a moment of clarity.

David’s compassion touched his soul.

Saul knows the normal way of things –

When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today.  1 Samuel 14:19

David has proved he is no ordinary man.

We know the normal way of things.

revenge2Even in the small things – when someone rolls their eyes at something we say or makes a sarcastic comment or teases us in front of other people or lets us down again, we feel small, we feel humiliated, we feel hurt…..and we want to get even.

We rein in our desire to really hurt the person who has hurt us (who knows what has actually crossed our mind in that first split second?!?), but we can’t resist a little comeback, can we? A cryptic dig on Facebook, ignoring a text, finding a way to expose their weakness, withdrawing our friendship, leaving them out of a conversation…….sound familiar?

It is normal.

It is natural.

It is human nature.

But it is not God’s way.

And what about the really big things? When we are hurt in the most unimaginable ways? When we are robbed of someone we love, or betrayed by infidelity or systematically bullied…….am I really saying we should just sit there and take it?

Of course we want to get even. We want them to hurt like we are hurting. We want them to be accountable for what they have done. We want them to pay.

It is normal.

It is natural.

It is human nature.

But it is not God’s way.

“I have the right to hurt you like you’ve hurt me.”

Maybe. But you have a choice. You can choose not to.

You can choose to be the better person.

You can choose to see this as an opportunity to show grace and mercy and love and forgiveness.

“Why on earth would I do that?”

Because revenge ties you up in knots but forgiveness sets you free and allows you to move on.

It’s hard, of course it’s hard. People say ‘I’m sorry’ are the hardest words but they’re not, are they? ‘I forgive you’ are the hardest words by far.

Choosing not to hold a grudge is really, really hard.

Choosing not to seek revenge is really, really hard.

But it is God’s way.

And so it is the best way.

“But that means letting them get away with it. I can’t do that!”

Like David, we have to trust that everyone will be accountable to God for their actions. That may make us feel a bit better – until we realise that that includes us too!

And of course, if a law has been broken, then we have to trust the justice system to deliver the appropriate punishment for the crime.

But we can let it go.

forgiveWe can choose to be consumed by compassion rather than resentment.

“That’s all very well for you” I hear you say “You haven’t suffered like I have suffered.”

You’re probably right. Come back to me then.

But I do try to live by this saying in every situation –

‘The only thing you can control in any situation is your own reaction”.

And I do try to live by this. I try to react in a positive way (as a grace dispenser!) when I am put down or hurt or let down. I have had quite a few hurtful things happen over the last few months and I have tried really hard to react with grace and love and forgiveness. And maybe if I get it right in these relatively small things, it will prepare me well for a larger ‘attack’.

May we be a channel of God’s peace and love and grace and forgiveness today and everyday –

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love,
Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in You

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness – only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek,
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving to all men that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life




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