Retaliation is all about getting even, being right, feeling exonerated, making sure everyone knows my side, my view, my account of events, my opinion and my reasoning.
It never heals, always escalates, and in spite of both sides’ desire to win the retaliation battle, everyone loses.
Especially when it involves Christians.
When we divide a Christian marriage, a Christian family, a Christian staff, team, or church into winners and losers, it hurts the reputation of the Lord Jesus in this world.
Histories and Timelines
This is how you know you’re in the middle of a sanctified retaliation war. Opposing parties come to meetings with their version of the issues and conflicts.
“And then, on Wednesday, you said this. That’s why I did this.”
“No I didn’t. It didn’t happen that way at all. I can prove that it wasn’t until the next Tuesday that I said that, but that’s not what I said. I said this, and it was only because you did this on the Friday before.”
Both sides marshal a lot of “character” or “eye” witnesses to prove that they’ve been wronged, hurt, or misunderstood.
Tragically, if it’s a retaliation war between husband and wife, they usually try to recruit the children to their side. If it’s Christian leaders, they usually recruit devoted followers to their side.
It’s so important to win that they totally disregard the emotional and spiritual impact all of this will have on those who look up to them.
But Jesus said…
That “they,” all those watching, would know we are Christians by our love, not by our exoneration, by our willingness to give up our rights, not by our determination to be right, by our behaviors that remind people of Him rather than the two-year-olds in our world.
Judy and I have an almost two-year-old in our life right now. Our Celia’s Zachary lives just a few miles away. He’s our first grandchild to permanently reside in California and we just can’t get enough of him.
But when he doesn’t get his way and stomps his feet and his face turns purple and his eyes bug out and he screams at his parents (he never screams at me because I try not to tell my grandchildren anything they don’t want to hear), it’s not a pretty picture. He’s a sweetie until he doesn’t get his way. Then he becomes a retaliator!
Reminds me a lot of church fights I’ve been a part of, or marriages Judy and I have tried to “adjudicate.” Grownup Christians prove that their chronological age has nothing to do with the spiritual maturity when they revert to the behaviors of a two-year-old.
So how would the Lord Jesus classify you when you don’t get your way in your marriage, your family, your workplace, or your church?
Would He say you’re a selfless, other-centered and mature follower who trusts Him enough to give up your rights?
Or would He tell you you’re more like a two-year old retaliator when it comes to getting your own way?
If all of this makes you uncomfortable, it should.
It makes me uncomfortable.
But it also pulls my heart. Because as much as I want my own way in my flesh, my redeemed heart wants to be more like Jesus than the two-year-olds I know.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (Jesus Christ, John 13:35)