“I was honored today with having a few stones, dirt, rotten eggs, and pieces of dead cats thrown at me.”
“I knew some Christians once and they wronged me.”
Christians aren’t perfect. They make mistakes like anyone else. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive them. I think that is what they would do for you.
Maybe they didn’t know they wronged you. Was it something really bad or was it just a mistake? Have you gone to them and spoken to them about it? Maybe if you were to forgive them you would begin to understand the forgiveness God has for you. We all need to be forgiven, don’t you agree?
Pride is a subtle thing. I remember many years ago stepping forward to take a closer look at a sofa in a shop display. Suddenly I came to an abrupt halt. I had walked straight into a plate glass door. Did I give thought to the pain coming from a flattened nose? No. My first thought was, Who saw me? When I realized that no one had seen the incident, I proceeded to give comfort to my nose.
I once saw a woman walk behind me while I was preaching outdoors. As she did so, she stumbled and twisted her ankle. It apparently didn’t hurt at all. With the utmost composure, she graciously walked across in front of the crowd as though nothing had happened. Yet from my viewpoint, I saw that when she got around the corner, she doubled up with pain.
The Bible says God hates pride. It is a sin that will stop multitudes from entering the kingdom of heaven. Pride destroys families. It keeps spouses from admitting that they are wrong. They would rather break up a family and keep their pride, than humble themselves and be reconciled, even for the sake of the children.
When I went to give blood at the local Red Cross, I had to spend quite some time filling out a form about my background. The AIDS virus had left blood banks justifiably paranoid. Ordinary banks are worried about bad withdrawals; blood banks are worried about bad deposits. The list of questions seemed endless: did I have HIV, heart disease, fainting spells, etc. I looked down the long list, then across to the boxes on the right side of the form. It was simple. All they contained were “Yes” or “No,” so I went down the boxes and did what all good people from Down-Under do—I crossed out the non-applicable ones. Did I have HIV? I crossed out the “Yes” in the box, leaving a clear “No” for the person reviewing the form. It made sense to me.
I then took the form to the nurse and sat beside her. She stared at it for about three seconds, and then looked at me in horror. My answers indicated that I had HIV, hepatitis, typhoid, malaria, cancer, heart disease, lumps under my arms, skin rashes, fainting spells, and that I’d had diarrhea for over a month—among a number of other distasteful things.
Her facial expression changed when I told her that New Zealanders walk around upside-down, drive on the other side of the road, and fill out forms differently.
In one sense, you have (by way of your commitment to Christ) moved into a radically different culture. You are now living in a kingdom which has rules that are revolutionary. You have bowed your knee to the sovereignty of the King of kings. As author Larry Tomczak explained, “Coming under the loving Lordship of Jesus Christ means an end to our ‘rights’ as well as to our wrongs. It means the end of life on our own terms.” Now you owe your allegiance to Him above all else—and His ways are certainly different. Never a man spoke like this Man. Jesus said to bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you (Matthew 5:44).
Many have missed the point of why the Christian should let another person stomp on him. The reason is not that the Christian is a wimp, but that he has surrendered the job of vengeance to the Lord. If someone does me wrong, I am not to take the law into my own hands. Instead, I give it all to God in prayer, and if (in His perfect judgment) He sees fit to do so, He will stomp on the person who stomped on me; and He has a righteous (and bigger) stomp.
Let me give you some examples of how this works. Sue and I used to let people have our books and tapes on a credit system. After a seminar, if people didn’t have any money at the time, we would let them take what they wanted, and we would send them a bill. It was a good system, except that after awhile we discovered we had $3,000 worth of unpaid bills. Professing Christians were taking our property and not paying for it.
We sent reminders. That didn’t produce any response at all. So we decided we would get radical and do it God’s way. We mailed a gift of ten dollars to each of those who had stolen books and tapes from us, based on the fact that Jesus said to do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you. He said that if someone wants to take your coat, you should give the person your cloak also (see Matthew 5:40). What we were saying was, “God, we give it all to You. We want You to be our financial Adviser. If You see fit to stomp on these people, that’s up to You. You know their circumstances. Perhaps they are in financial difficul
ty. In the meantime, we will love our neighbors as ourselves and do them good.”
The following weekend I did a series of meetings for a church, and the honorarium they gave me was ten times the normal amount! We like the way God works, so now we do things His way.
This wasn’t just an isolated incident. I once sent fourteen boxes of books to South Africa. When they arrived, the person who ordered them called me and said they were all damaged. We were 4,000 miles apart, so all I could do was to ask him to claim the insurance. For some reason, he refused. A friend told me to instigate court proceedings, but I felt led to draw on the wisdom of my Business Adviser. Instead I gave the whole thing to God in prayer and wrote it off. The next weekend at a Christian camp, we sold more than seven times as many books and tapes as we usually sell.
A close friend of mine was a partner in a Christian T-shirt company. One of their shirts had a particular word on it that was used by a well-known apparel company. Not long after the shirt was released, the apparel company threatened to sue my friend’s company for using the word unless they came up with a quick $10,000. Even though their lawyers felt there was no way they could lose the case in court, he prayed about it and felt led to obey the Scriptures. Because Jesus said that if someone sues you for your coat, you should give him your cloak also, he gave them a number of checks (over a short period) totaling $10,000, then an extra $1,000 check.
What he did didn’t make much sense. Yet within one month, God had so blessed the T-shirt company that they expanded from eight employees to forty-two. In fact, within three years of business, they sold over one million T-shirts.
You may not be involved in book or T-shirt sales, but you can put these same principles into practice. If someone does you wrong, don’t let pride rear its ugly head. Stop for a minute and consider, “What would man have me do, and what would Jesus have me do?” Man’s way is for you to stick up for your rights. That will be a way that feels good to your natural mind, a way that seems right—but I encourage you to give it all to God in prayer, then do it His way. If someone wrongs you at your place
of work, buy him a gift. Do the person good, and then pray that through God’s love his heart will be open to the claims of the gospel. Such a radical action in the mind of a hard heart is worth a thousand eloquent sermons.
Pastor Justin Thomley
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