I have not always been treated well by other people. The bad part of this is actually not in that I was treated wrong but that it gave me an excuse to treat others wrong.
There are people out there that I had grudges against for years. I jumped on every opportunity to make their life miserable or at least to make it more uncomfortable and sometimes more costly. I felt justified in this behavior because I told myself I was simply giving them what they deserved. I even felt they asked for it but not one single time did they walk up to me and say, “Mike, would you humiliate, shame and defame me in front of my friends? Would you vandalize my property? Would you threaten me and make me feel endangered?” I still had myself convinced that they asked for it and had it coming.
This is poisoned thinking. Even though three lefts make a right, two wrongs never make a right. They simply lead to more wrong and seldom end with two wrongs. I’ve never been very good at admitting my wrongs but I have always expected everyone else to be great at it. I’ve never been adept at righting wrongs but I have presumed that others should be not only experts but also to be extremely quick to do it. I’ve never been sensitive or tolerant enough to avoid doing wrong but I have set a standard for others far above the one I have set for myself. This is hypocrisy and I am guilty.
Proverbs 28:13 People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.
I don’t believe this is strictly speaking of confessing to God although that is certainly a great thing to do. But I can see from my life experiences and past mistakes that it is good to do with other people. When I confess my sins to someone else I bring them into the light. They take on a different perspective. I can truly see just how wrong they were and the need to turn from them. If I keep them hidden, my brain can make up all sorts of excuses to reduce the guilt of that sin but only confessing can take away that guilt forever. Forgiveness from God is an absolute must, forgiveness from others is important as well.
Matthew 5:23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
I have to realize that I may not only have to confess and turn from my ways but there may also be other things to do to right these wrongs. I may have to go to others and explain a lie I told about someone else that hurt them or I may have to repay someone for something I stole from them. I am expected to not only apologize and do no more wrong but to do everything I can to clean up the mess I made however I have to do it. This sounds like work and it is, whether it is physically or through reaching out to everyone involved and setting the record straight.
Proverbs 28:14 Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.
I like the way that verse says that, fear to do wrong. I think that in the world today, people fear the wrong things. We worry about everything God says not to worry about and we fear what God says we shouldn’t fear. That’s bad. But we also refuse to fear what God says to fear. Fear to do wrong. Be a big fraidy-cat when it comes to doing wrong.
Think twice or three or four times before doing something that is wrong. Doing wrong breeds more wrong and setting that in motion should scare the dickens out of us! I need to be the world’s biggest chicken about doing the wrong thing. If I want to stand up and flaunt my manliness, let me do it in the face of evil and sin. Let me be a manly man and fulfill the commands of Christ without fear and trembling. But make me be a shivering little mouse of a man when it comes to doing the wrong thing. There is nothing wrong with that at all.
Matthew 5:22 “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
Lastly, I need to raise my standards for myself and lower my standards for others. Others cannot live up to what I expect so I should maybe stop expecting so much. I have expected far too little from myself simply because I have refused to allow God to change me enough to live to a higher level. I have to give up and be transformed to live to these higher standards. The verse above is all about raising my standards. That is one great place to start.
So for today, I am reminding myself that wrong is wrong and will never pave the way to hope and peace in my life no matter what my selfish desire tells me and that fearing to do wrong frees me from the consequences of things I might have done. I am raising the bar and trusting God to make me able to exceed it while trying to live with godly expectations of others. That’s a lot. God can do it and he is my strength.