Regula Aurea = Do not seek revenge or hold a grudge
Regula Aurea = The Golden Rule in Latin
reg′yə lə aüreâ
PART TWO OF SIX
Not long ago, I began to see many people wearing a shirt reading, “You mad bro?” The meaning was to try to push someone’s buttons that was already upset about something. The term is supposed to be funny, but when we think about it, there is nothing biblical about it. Especially in today’s emotionally charged world, I certainly do not think it is a good idea or Christlike to get under someone’s skin, even if it is unintentional. And we certainly would not like someone treating our feelings lightly if the shoe was on the other foot. We live in a time where seemingly everyone is mad at someone or something, and many of these things are justifiable. Is there someone you are mad at right now? Or, do you know someone that is mad at you? How do we handle this biblically?
What do we do when a friend or family member has upset us about something? As I see it, we have only two options as a follower of Christ: 1. Either we forgive the matter completely, prayerfully and let it go (really let it go!), or 2. We must go to that brother, in love (in words and attitude), and let them know they upset us. Matthew 18:15-20 gives us the model for doing so. We have used this at our church for years and have seen reconciliation many, many times. As Pastors, if someone comes to us with an issue with another person, the first question we ask, “Have you Matthew 18’d them?” It has become an action term. That is the first step and most times the only step. The problem often takes care of itself. And another should not intervene until step one is done. God has given us order in this matter, and we are not to skip steps.
It is not okay to do nothing at all and let the wound fester. Frequently this leads to backbiting and gossiping behind someone’s back. This has led to more division in the church than probably anything else. There is nothing wrong with being righteously angry sometimes, but we must handle it the right way. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Matthew 5:23-24 says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
We see both sides in these passages: how we are to react if someone offends us and what we are supposed to do if we know we have wronged someone else. We cannot fulfill the Great Commandment properly if we are at odds with our neighbor. How can we love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind, and our neighbor as ourself if we are not right with our neighbor and brother?
Further, Leviticus 19:17-18 says, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Hate is not allowed for the believer as we are commanded to instead love. Vengeance belongs to the Lord and we are not to seek revenge on anyone. That is not to say someone will not be held accountable for their actions when a crime is committed, but it is not up to us to play God.
Not holding a grudge against another might be even more difficult. I would say we have all held a grudge at one time or another. It might be even well deserved. We can easily justify holding a grudge for many reasons. But in the end, God knows it only hurts us and he commands us (yes, commands) not to do it. Most times the other person does not even know about this grudge, so it definitely does not hurt them. We are to forgive easily. It seems like forgiveness is a gift for the other person, as we are showing mercy. Forgiveness is really a gift to the giver, as the burdens of hate, seeking revenge, and holding a grudge are heavy weights to bear. The Lord takes them from our shoulders if we let Him. We are not to be overcome by evil; we are to overcome evil with good.
One principle I live my life by that has served me well is this: you can only control one person, and that is you. I cannot control other people’s actions, what they do and say, but I have control of how I respond. I am to respond in love; to seek out how Christ would want me to handle a situation. I am to overcome evil with good lest I be overcome with hate and evil. We are to love our enemies; to do good to them. I think this principle is especially helpful when dealing with strangers. We have no idea what they are going through or what their spiritual background is, so we HAVE TO be Christlike.
Is there someone who you know you have offended? Is there someone you are holding a grudge against?
Just for today, don’t let the sun go down without taking action to make things right with your neighbor.
Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..