Part VI of our series on Doing Good
So let’s look at John 19:10-11, when Jesus is appearing before Pilate, who has just had him beaten:
10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
Pilate says to Jesus, “Don’t you see that there are only two people here—you and me—and I have all the power?”
And Jesus says, “Actually, there are two people here—you and my father—and I trust my father. He is giving you this power at the moment, but I can trust him and his love for me and you.”
So when we are attacked by an enemy, we need to say, “It is no longer me who is being attacked by an enemy; it is Christ Jesus living through me who is being attacked by my enemy. And he is trustworthy and will repay. But he may be doing something in this situation that I can cooperate with. In order to figure that out, the first thing I need to do is to not retaliate.”
Turn to 2 Samuel 16:5-14. This story takes place when Absalom, David’s son, rebels and runs King David out of Jerusalem. When David is leaving the city, Shimei, one of the people who was still loyal to the first king, Saul, took the opportunity to attack David.
Look at the difference between David’s and Shimei’s responses. David does not see the conflict as between him and Shimei at all. Instead, he sees God at the center of it all, and he responds accordingly:
5 As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. 6 He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. 7 As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! 8 The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!”
9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”
10 But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”
11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. 12 It may be that the LORD will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.”
13 So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. 14 The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.
Later in the story, David returns to Jerusalem, and Shimei realizes he has made a big mistake! And then even later in the story, David’s son gets to deal with Shimei. In each of these cases we learn about letting God (and not us) take revenge.
So when you are attacked by an enemy, think about it this way:
- Christ is present.
- Your enemy is actually attacking Christ.
- Christ will repay.
- But Christ does good to his enemies, and he is doing something you can’t see or understand.
- Your job is not to try to think of something good to do to your enemy. Instead, your job is to stay focused on Christ. Trust him. Let him act instead of you.