(Originally published 8/30/13)
As I’ve mentioned a few times, I occasionally watch two little boys, a 4yr old and a 2yr old. The other day, they got in a fight that involved kicking and whining. When I asked who kicked who first, the 4yr old pointed to his brother and promptly responded, “He kicked me back first.”
I love kids because they are so candid and literal. We laugh at the things that come out of their mouths, but in actuality we do a lot of the same things. We just disguise our behavior by giving it a ‘grown-up’ sheen.
Take this response for example: it’s hilarious the way the kid stated it and I’m positive that in his mind it was a perfectly logical explanation for his actions. Sure, he had done something wrong, but so had his brother. And all’s fair, right?
I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to do the same thing. I’ll say something I know I shouldn’t, use manipulation, or lose my temper all because of what so-and-so did. I somehow think that their actions justify mine, or even cancel them out. I think that if we both sinned then my sin didn’t really count.
The sad thing is though, that when I stand before the Lord and give an account, ‘Well, she started it,’ is not going to be a sufficient excuse. Furthermore, retaliation can hurt just as much as an initial attack, if not more.
I don’t know, and therefore cannot judge, another person’s heart or their motives. Their sin or wrong doing does not negate or justify mine. Romans 14:12 says,
‘So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.’
There is no clause to this verse that states, ‘and they shall be allowed to bring before the throne, as evidence, the sins of the other person involved.’ We are each held accountable for our own personal sins. We have no control over any other person; the only thing we can control is our own actions. We may have no say over the hurts that others inflict upon us, but we have complete control over our reactions to them.
I also fall into the habit of offering and accepting advice and comfort like, ‘no, they started it and you were perfectly within your rights to do what you did.’ Society would like to make us think that all’s fair once first blood is drawn, but in reality, we are just as much in the wrong whether we throw the first punch or the second.
It is very important to remember that when we stand before the judgment seat one day, there will be no one else around at whom we can point the finger of blame. God isn’t going to take a short recess to question witnesses and suspects and check for alibis.
That being said, we will by no means be standing there alone. If you are a born again Christian and have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for you, then He will be standing right be your side. And He will point the finger at Himself and say, “I already took care of their sins. Their debt is paid.”
Rather than taking this as permission to treat others any way we want, we should be so grateful of the grace that was shown us that we can do nothing but show grace to others and turn the other cheek as often as possible.
From now on, through the grace of God, I’m going to try to be more mindful of His grace and forgiveness towards me and strive to give more out to others. Rather than allowing their sins to affect my actions in a negative way, I’m going to try (again, with God’s help) to take every attack against me as an opportunity to turn the other cheek, rather than as authorization to retaliate.