Inbuilt in all of us is a sense of justice.
A toddler will cry out if another toddler takes ‘their toy’.
If you live near a four way stop you will see daily reminders of people demanding justice from each other ‘I was here first’, ‘you went before me, that’s not right’.
But then there are the life changing things that happen. Someone hurts you deeply and you know what they’ve done is not right.
Once again I want to say I love how incredibly practical the Bible is – think about this verse – II Timothy 4:14 – ‘Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done’. The word ‘great harm’ literally means he inflicted multiple (plural) , unjust (incorrect) harm. Many commentators writing on this passage and looking at the context of the chapter say that in all likelihood this ‘great harm’ was Alexander rejecting and opposing Paul’s preaching. The context of the words here speak to the probable expression of an ongoing angry response by Alexander.
That’s not fair is it? Paul was simply speaking God’s saving Gospel and Alexander is so mad in his response to Paul that Paul feels he’s received great harm. Paul was hurt at Alexander’s attitude. Think about this though, this wasn’t a response that simply said ‘that’s not very nice’. This is the response that said ‘you hurt me deeply and you keep hurting me’.
As I share that does it ring a bell for you? Do you think to yourself – I know how that feels? We all have times when people do us wrong. Maybe they react in a way that not only doesn’t feel fair but results in deep hurt. Maybe you feel rejected, misunderstood or flat out angry.
Our culture’s advice would be to get even. Give them a taste of their own medicine. Ever heard the phrase ‘hurt people, hurt people’? It’s so easy to focus on the hurt others have caused us and sit and think over and over again about what they said and what they did. But look again at that verse – Paul didn’t deny his hurt, he didn’t minimize the harm done to him. But he didn’t take matters into his own hands. He didn’t allow the injustice to form bitterness in his heart.
Here’s what Paul did he applied faith to the point of pain. He recognized the hurt but then gave it to God. Paul knew that whatever he could do and say was nothing compared to what God can make happen to convict a person of their sin. Do you have that same faith? Faith enough to say ‘I’m hurt’ but also add ‘but I’m trusting God to sort this out’?
If you struggle to do that let me suggest this simple exercise – write out the top 5 ways this person has hurt you and then write out the top 5 ways you have sinned against God. Do a simple equation and make the conclusion – which person is most in need of forgiveness? If I start to add up the hurts done to me and then think about my sin the conclusion is simple – I am the one that really needs forgiveness. So how can I ask for your forgiveness and not at the same time seek God’s help to extend forgiveness?
This is a work in progress for me right now but I pray you are encouraged by God’s Word in your own life.