wrong_way

How to react when you’re wronged

I’ve been thinking about this question quite a bit over the last several weeks; not necessarily because I’ve recently been wronged, but in response to my current meditations in 2 Corinthians.

There is no doubt that Paul had been wrongly treated by some within the Corinthian Church, and his response to such wrongs is both challenging and instructive. Furthermore, following Jesus through His passion, as exhibited in the Gospels, can be outright unnerving. In fact, every time I read the Gospel accounts I find a certain part of my heart that desires a different response from Jesus, one I know He’d never had allowed, and would certainly not have accomplished the salvific work. The word’s of the Apostle James strike so deep in my heart…

For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

— James 1:20

Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10 have been especially challenging.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

— 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

The Greek root translated “war” is related to the [Greek] word from which we get our English cognate “strategy” or “strategize.” It is so easy to “war after the flesh.” That is certainly my default. In thinking much on these verses I’ve found myself far more aware of just how quickly I revert to warring/strategizing with earthly wisdom and weapons when confronted with opposition. Thus I started to ask, “How should I react when I am wronged?

  1. Remember the admonition to turn the other cheek. (Matt. 5:39)
  2. Remember that the trial you now face is ultimately for your sanctification. (James 1:2-4)
  3. Remember that if God does not grant your repeated requests “let this cup pass from me” or “remove this thorn in my flesh,” then that which you face is allowed of Him for your good. (Matt 26:39-44, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
  4. Remember that it is always better to find God as your defender than to provide your own ineffectively feeble defense. (Psalm 89:18, Psalm 94:22)
  5. Remember to bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matt. 5:44)
  6. Remember, you’re blessed. (Matt. 5:11)
  7. Remember to rejoice in your heavenly reward. (Matt. 5:12)
  8. Remember Matthew 18:15

I could certainly go on, but these are the ones that have been swirling about my mind. Somewhere in the process of this lies the all important task of bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

One last thought. One of my favorite [non-biblical] stories/books is The Count of Monte Cristo. The movie that was done about 12 years ago is pretty good too. There’s a great quote in the movie; just before Abbe Faria dies he says to Edmond Dantes…

Here is your final lesson – do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, “Vengeance is mine.”

 

 

9 replies
  1. Don Steigerwald
    Don Steigerwald says:

    Good word. It reminds me to not forget that even the mundane problems are to be subjugated within the mind of Christ and not considered arbitrary and random. All things work together……not just some.

    Reply
  2. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Thanks, Miles – someone has said that its not what happens to you, but what happens in you that defines the man.

    Reply
  3. Gunnar Hanson
    Gunnar Hanson says:

    I am limited on time, but feel compelled to comment or question your post. Where, or when does this strategy breakdown? Let’s say physical violence or harm to another person? Does the above flow-chart still work, or would you be in agreement with the pacifists position of non-violence to all circumstances of being wronged?

    Okay, gotta run…this may be a hand grenade conversation that I can’t participate in…

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:

      Gunnar… you’re a punk!

      I’m not necessarily speaking about physical altercations here, nor am I much of a non-violent pacifist.

      I’ve had many a discussion with younger believers (typically late teen/early 20’s guys) who position themselves as pacifists. I have told them that they can individually take the non-violent/turn the other cheek position in the face of physical violence upon themselves, but that as soon as they turn the cheek away from defending the defenseless they have — I believe — stepped outside of God’s will. I believe that God’s indictment that Israel did not defend the cause of the fatherless and the widows (i.e. the defenseless), indicates that God counts such as sin. Certainly the issue of self-defense in the face of physical harm/violence is a much broader subject.

      Fact is, most of the “wronging” going on within the church — which is my primary concern — is not of the physical sort.

      Reply
  4. Trip Kimball
    Trip Kimball says:

    Hi Miles, good post as usual. I was looking at your list of “remembers” coupled with bringing our thoughts captive, etc, and thinking of these being almost preemptive rather than reactive.

    The reactive bent is typically our problem, imo, and what spurs us/me on to strategizing/ warring in a natural and selfish way. The “remembers” are more reflective, but also can be preemptive like a disciplined meditation.
    just some thoughts…
    Trip

    Reply
    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:

      Certainly it could be preemptive, but I was thinking about it on the reactive side.

      The longer I walk with the Lord the more I recognize, what I might call, a cognitive check, almost like a Spirit given pause just before I make a decision to react. The default is to react in the flesh, but I also have that momentary, God-given opportunity to reflectively remember the above list. I’m certain that I do not run through all of them, but often times one of them will flash through my mind that is sufficient to extend the window of pause, and do the righteous thing. :)

      Reply
  5. Trip Kimball
    Trip Kimball says:

    Miles, yeah, that little “check”, witness, still small voice… however it works for someone, that’s what needs to be picked up on AND responded to / trusted. It’s pretty much the only thing that keeps us from just reacting.
    TK

    Reply

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