This past Sunday morning in Bible class we had discussed Roman 12, including verses 18-20: as much as in you lies, be at peace with all men. Avenge not yourselves for…vengeance is mine, says the Lord…
I nodded in agreement as the teacher explained the behavior a Christian should exhibit, and eventually became bored and impatient. We all know this. Why is he spending so much time on it?
Now it is Monday, or Wednesday, or some other weekday, and I have left my religious cubbyhole behind. This is real life, we are dealing with, not some ideal that always works out fine. So, despite the fact that I know the “right” answers, I behave the “wrong” way. This is different, I rationalize.
Oh, really? The only difference is that it is me, and I give myself a free pass whenever possible. Besides, the vengeance thing is about serious matters, not some minor annoyance, so this does not count. I am not a vigilante, after all.
So if it is so minor, why do I allow myself to be upset by it? Well, because they did it to me.
Reading the Word of God is not difficult. Understanding it is sometimes more difficult. But applying it to my life is the most difficult thing of all. I make excuses for myself, (“It’s been a rough day”); I flatter myself with good intentions, (“I just want him to learn how it feels”); I try to make my actions seem normal and forgivable, (“It was just an accident, I meant no harm”), all while denying the other person any benefit of a doubt at all.
What I have really done is lower myself to his level. What was that my brain just screamed out at him? Jerk, idiot, lowlife?
I think I hear it echoing back to me.
Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause; and deceive not with your lips. Say not, I will do so to him as he has done to me; say not I will recompense evil; wait for Jehovah and he will save you, All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but Jehovah weighs the spirit. Prov 24:28,29; 20:22; 16:2.