A gleaming black BMW cut in front of Sharla in a two-car-length space.
“You dork!” she said loudly. “You need your driver’s license taken away!” Since her windows were up, the BMW’s driver couldn’t hear, but her scowl and ranting mouth told it all. Suddenly, shame gripped her heart. A man like that needs to hear words of forgiveness, she thought, more than you need to express your ire. Sharla repented immediately, but the incident couldn’t be retracted.
At a missionary meeting, my husband and I and our coworkers angrily discussed the horrific atrocities that one East African country’s leader had ordered. “He needs to be shot!” someone said. In my outraged heart, I agreed. Our area director, who had been quietly listening, said, “He is a man who needs to know Jesus. Please pray for me as I go next month to tell him that Jesus died for him.” We were stunned into silence and bathed in shame. We had thought of retribution, not bringing the cross of Jesus to a wicked despot.
Telling others what to do and how to do it comes naturally to our sinful nature. Calling down retribution on those who cross our wills comes just as easily. Two of Jesus’ disciples were known as the “Sons of Thunder” because of their fiery tempers and their penchant to angrily judge others.
Actually, it is no more difficult for us to say to those who cut us off in traffic, “Welcome, my friend. Take whatever place you want in traffic. I’m glad to accommodate you!” We will feel much better if we respond with words of kindness. Speaking with a smile is icing on the cake! Why should we let others, through their selfishness, control our temper?
Jesus, our example, called out to His Father concerning those who had nailed him to the cross, ”Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34). If Jesus could beg God for forgiveness for His murderers, shouldn’t we discipline ourselves to forgive those who merely annoy us?
An old Cherokee explained to his grandson about the battle that goes on inside a person. “It is a battle between two wolves. One wolf is Evil. Its characteristics are anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, lies, false pride, and ego.
‘The other wolf is Good. Its characteristics are joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, truth, compassion, and faith.”
“Which one wins?” the grandson asked thoughtfully.
The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”
The One You Feed
Jesus said, ”Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. . . . Do to others as you would have them do to you’” (Luke 6: 28,31).
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12: 17-19).
Let God be the one to whistle for flies!