Jesus would have been the kid who got beat up every day at recess.
He would have just stood there and taken shots from the schoolyard bully. Most of us would have at least tried to fight back. You know why?
Because Jesus is better than we are.
Someone slaps us, and we want to slap them back or worse. Someone curses at us, and we lob our own profanity in retaliation. Someone cuts us off in traffic, and the inner child emerges armed with invisible fireballs and bolts of electricity for which we use to destroy the horrid offender.
If someone was to cut Jesus off in the Jesusmobile during a leisurely Sunday drive, you know what He would have done?
Prayed. Then he would have gone about his drive.
The Bible says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21
The rock band, Foo Fighters, has a song called, “Best of you.” It’s on my iPod, and I’ve heard a lot lately during workouts. (Tuesday’s arms and back.) Every time I hear the lyrics “Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?” I think of the same thing.
Is someone getting the best of me?
While the song is about a relationship gone bad, that’s not the way the lyrics strike me. On the contrary, I ask myself, “Am I giving the best of myself? Is everyone I encounter getting the best from me?”
That’s what Jesus did and He commanded us to do the same, even when we want revenge.
Yes, that means when a co-worker takes credit for something you did, continue to give them the best of you. When a friend forgets to call you on your birthday, continue to give them the best of you. When your spouse says something hurtful, give them the best of you. That may mean they sleep on the couch for a night or two while you cool your jets but whatever.
There’s no doubt this isn’t easy. It isn’t easy for God either, as the Bible clearly says God hates evil. But at the same time, the Bible says God loves all His children. He just has an issue with his naughty kids. If you’re a parent, does this sound familiar?
Back at the schoolyard, Jesus not fighting is His way of giving us the best of Him. And the reason is simple. By taking the punishment, which everyone would have been watching, He would be modeling what God commands us to do – not seek vengeance.
But, as the verse above says, let God repay in ways only God knows and understands, while you close your eyes for a few seconds, take a deep breath, and go to God in prayer. This will give you the best shot at continuing to give them the best of you.