The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
1 Cor 6:7

In my blog last week, I jumped off this verse, concluding that the Apostle Paul was able to overlook offenses because he kept his eyes on the prize – Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He was so focused on Christ – what He had done, what He was doing and what He would do in the future – that he didn’t have the time or expend the energy to deal with slights, real or imagined. That’s a great message and one I need to remember.

But it wasn’t the message I had in mind when the Holy Spirit highlighted the verse to me. As I was typing out the phrases that might answer the question “Why not rather be wronged?” I could feel indignation (righteous indignation I would like to think) welling upwithin me. But God was showing me that the indignation, even if it was righteous, would lead to actions that didn’t reveal His heart to the offender. He brought this verse to mind:

12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
James 2:12-13

Mercy triumphs over judgment. That’s grace! God is being merciful toward me instead of giving me the punishment I deserve. But grace carries two meanings – it is both that which is extended to me by God, and it is the reflection of that grace working in my life. (See a short blog about it here.) What that means is that in my life, I should be striving to allow mercy to triumph over judgment…not nursing my indignation whether it is righteous or not.

Considering the tremendous grace God has shown to us, it is not our place to measure out punishment. Paul put it this way when writing to the Romans:

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If 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. 20On 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.”

21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:17-21

Paul begins the passage with a warning not to repay evil for evil and ends with the injunction to overcome evil with good. He leaves little wiggle room for bringing lawsuits or claiming “our rights.” Between the two verses, Paul gives what might be even harder instructions – we’re to actually bless our enemies – not just with words, but in deed.

And then there is verse 18. God often brings this to my mind: “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” That wording implies that I ought to be proactive in bringing about peace. I’m not to just make peace in my heart, but to take whatever action is possible to make peace when there is friction between me and someone else. Yes, boundaries may be appropriate, but “if it is possible” I’m to make peace.

These are challenging instructions. God has given us His Spirit to guide and enable us. Sometimes the hardest part is being willing. I find that often, what is required is the simple prayer “Lord, make me willing.”

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