“Why not rather be wronged?” Abe Lemmons was asked if he was bitter at Texas Athletic Director Deloss Dodds who fired him as the Longhorn’s basketball coach. He replied, “Not at all, but I plan to buy a glass-bottomed car so I can watch the look on his face when I run over him.”
Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? WOW, those questions hurt! They go against everything we stand for. What about decency? What about fairness? What about right and wrong?
In this whole Sixth Chapter of First Corinthians, Paul is talking about the way that Christians deal with each other. They were obviously arguing and bickering over everything and it was making a mess in the Church. If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Here is the problem in the Church at Corinth! The issue is more than just correcting a wrong that has been done. The issue is who is going to win! Who will emerge the “top dog?”
A lady named Sue called me to her house one day. She wouldn’t share with me the reason she wanted my visit to her home. I was somewhat surprised by the call because she wasn’t a member of my church nor to my knowledge was she even active in any church. She was wanting advice on how to handle a problem that had arisen in her life. There are two types of people who seek advice: One is the person who legitimately wants your advice. The other is the person who has already made their decision and simply wants your blessing. Her name had appeared in another city newspaper as being arrested for prostitution. Someone had seen the name and then spread the word that it was her. We know that others have the same name, I have found some of your names in the obituary, but it wasn’t you. News of this had spread to a few of her friends and co-workers. How was she to handle the problem? Should she sue the ones spreading the untruth? Should she print an article in the local newspaper that would announce that it was not her? My advice, floored her. Leave it alone. Let it die. In other words, “Why not rather be wronged?” A couple of weeks later an article appeared in the local paper talking about the woman and all the rumors going around the county. The article could not substantiate that the name in the other was indeed a different person. The article had been placed there by the woman’s insistence, because she was going to correct a wrong done to her. It only served to really get the mess stirred.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, `Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. It is clear, the believer is not to retaliate, not to seek vengeance and not to harbor resentment. Retaliation and vengeance is Gods and God will do the discipline for us. But there is satisfaction in doing it ourselves! If I do it, I know that it will get done and in a timely manor.
In a minister’s meeting in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, one day the ministers were discussing a problem that had occurred at the First Presbyterian Church. The treasurer of the congregation had embezzled $97,000.00 that they could account for. All of us heard the expected response, “prosecute them.” What we didn’t expect came from the minister of the First Presbyterian Church who had obviously given this problem a great deal of thought. “The time will come when the $97,000.00 will not be remembered, but the grace extended to the perpetrator will always be remembered.”
Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Sounds like a good response to me! After all, they have to protect themselves. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. (Matthew 26:50-52)
It is far to easy to strike back. The husband is unfaithful, so the wife strikes back. The employee is fired, so the employee messes up the computer. The car is not repaired properly, so we run and file a lawsuit. We are really good at holding on to things. We can’t hold on to the past.
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. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18-21)
When my children were little they would come home and complain about being called some name. I would remind them of the little old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.” Sure, it hurt to hear those unkind words. Why not rather be wronged? Let go of it and move on.
In Africa, lions live in groups called prides. The pride cares for everyone in the group. The older lions that can no longer run after the prey, The pride uses to its advantage. They can’t run but they have a loud roar. The younger lion don’t have the roar but they have the speed. So at one end of the clearing where the prey is to be found the older lions will lay down and roar. The younger lions will go to the other end of the clearing and remain silent. The prey, hearing the roar of the older lions runs away, right into the younger lions. They run from their fears, to their death.
Jesus reminds us that the stronger one will forgive and let go. It is not for the advantage of the one who has wronged us. It is not even for the world that watches with open eyes. It is for us, because it is what Christ would have done. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)