Monday, April 09, 2007

The Bittersweet Taste of Revenge

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: I Samuel 26, 27, 28

I Samuel 26:15-16 (NIV)
15 David said, “You’re a man, aren’t you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn’t you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the Lord lives, you and your men deserve to die, because you did not guard your master, the Lord’s anointed. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?”

Matthew 5:43-47 (NIV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

Good morning!

When I was a little girl in grade school, I liked to play pretend games on the play ground with my friends. As soon as the recess bell would ring, we would run as fast as we could to the jungle gym in the middle of the play ground. Crawling inside the imaginary hut, we would hold tea parties in our princess mode, where no boys were allowed. Of course, the he men who wanted our full attention would proceed to climb all over the top of the gym set, whooping and hollering at us, making fun of what we were doing. We ignored them; at least we tried to. There was this one little boy: he had wirey red hair, and was covered in freckles. This kid was an annoyance to me. His name was Jimmy and I think he must have secretly liked me, although boys sure do have a funny way of showing it. Every time I ran on that play ground, he would chase me, and if he caught up to me, I could expect to be tackled to the ground. I learned rather quickly that I needed to be faster than him. And I was - most of the time. This boy was a pain in my life, and one day, I decided I had enough of this kid.

I saw Jimmy coming toward me out of the corner of my eye. He was running as fast as he could across the play ground. I had my back toward him and my radar antenna was up and beeping. I knew I was his target. He had to have been traveling at light speed. This time, I refused to run. I dug my tennis shoes into the pavement and held my ground, preparing for impact. Just as he got within a couple of feet of me, I bent over and reached behind me for his outstretched arm. Momentum and velocity took that boy right over the top of my back and he landed in front of me on the ground. A victory cheer rose up from the children who saw me flip him. That look of shock on Jimmy’s face was enough to make me feel just a little bit guilt ridden. I just couldn’t leave him laying there. Reaching down, I grinned from ear to ear, offering him a hand up. I asked Jimmy if he was okay. This beet red boy said he was fine but I knew he had been defeated. I had embarrassed him in front of all of his friends. And wouldn’t you know it? He never chased me again! Sometimes, revenge seems sweet. But is it really?

David had the power to kill King Saul. God had opened every door for revenge; yet David never took advantage of the opportunity. In fact, David chose to honor the king who continued to make him live out his life on the run. It seemed like Saul really wanted to love this kid, but jealousy consumed his soul. He lost the favor of the Lord by his disobedience; Saul had no one to blame but himself. David understood the value of returning genuine acts of love for hate. He returned kindness after kindness to a man who obviously didn’t deserve even a second chance.

Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies and to pray for those who continued to persecute them. In doing so, they would imitate the perfect heart of His Father in heaven. The next time you feel like lashing out at someone who is picking on you, remember the kind heart of young King David, and the words of our Lord. It may be easier and much more satisfying to attack, but that doesn’t ever make it right. If you feel like you are trying to outrun someone who is after you with everything they’ve got, stop right where you are, get down on your knees, and pray. Return their animosity with kindness. When we do this, Jesus says we will become perfect, like our Father in heaven.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: a heart that forgives over and over again. If you are struggling to love the ones who have hurt you repeatedly, ask the Lord of life to help you love them. He will do it for you every single time!
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