Handling Hurtful People - Part 3
Our family encountered this story while reading from the devotional 'Sticky Situations:'
"Dominic is one of the meanest kids Bert has ever met. He's one of the biggest students in school, and he throws his weight around. He takes every opportunity he gets to make life miserable for someone else. Dominic picks on all the little kids walking home from school and teases the girls so cruelly they usually end up running away in tears. Nobody likes him - his only friends are the ones he can intimidate into hanging out with him. Bert tries to avoid Dominic and not get in his way, because when Dominic is around, it means trouble."
"Today on the playground, there's a loud crash - someone broke a window with a ball! Immediately the teachers order Dominic to the principal's office. Dominic keeps protesting that he didn't do it, but his protests fall on deaf ears. But in this case, Dominic wasn't the guilty party - Bert was hiding from him behind the playground equipment and was watching Dominic when the window was broken. Actually, a lot of kids knew that Dominic wasn't responsible! 'But he's such a bully,' they reason, 'he deserves whatever punishment he gets.' Bert is no fan of Dominic, but he wonders if he should tell what he saw to the teachers. What should Bert do?"
Do you have anyone in your life that you dread being around? It seems like no matter what stage of life we are in, we encounter abrasive 'Dominics' - prickly people who aren't mindful of anyone who gets in their way.
In 1 Peter 3:8-12, God gives us instructions for handling prickly people, because he knows that everyone encounters people who are hurtful. Christ's instructions for his followers are to stifle the natural response of revenge against these people and to leave justice in his father's very capable hands. This really goes against the grain of our natural instinct, but Peter gives us several aspects in choosing the Christ-like response to hurtful people. Verse eight shows the first aspect: handling hurtful people with compassion, love, and courtesy contributes to your diving calling. Verses nine and 10 teach that a Christ-like response to hurtful people attracts God's blessing, and verses 11-12 reveal the final aspect: choosing to withhold revenge and animosity against difficult people entrusts your well being to God. The instruction Peter gives to the individual who has been frustrated by thoughtless people: "Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
When we get angry when we are annoyed or hurt, we have a choice to make: will I pursue peace, entrusting my well-being to God, or will I make the choice to usurp his seat of judgment and decide myself what penalty I will extract from the one who has hurt me? Sometimes it seems like if you don't extract the penalty, no one will; but Peter wants us to understand the decision to pursue peace or revenge has deeper spiritual ramifications: the Lord sees the righteous and hears their prayers, but his face is against the wicked.
In whose hand is the fate of the wicked? Do you hold the seat of judgment? If your focus is on the hurtful individual, you will always want revenge. If it is on God, you can show him that you entrust yourself to his care by choosing to pursue peace in the times it is up to you.