February 21, 2006 • By Ed Wrather
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:17-21.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…. - Matthew 5:43-45a.
A manager of a British company became a little upset after he had gotten some discarded chewing gum on his slacks. He became so upset that he at first planned to give all of the 80 employees a DNA test to determine whose chewing gum it had been. Employee reaction was so poor to that idea that he then threatened lie detector tests for them all.
There is a word that describes the manager of the company that became upset with his employees after finding the gum on his slacks. I looked up the definition of the word “jerk” as it applies to a person in several dictionaries and here are some of the definitions:
“Contemptibly foolish person.”
“Deal with dishonestly or unfairly.”
“An annoyingly stupid or foolish person.”
“A contemptibly naive, fatuous, foolish, or inconsequential person.”
“A foolish, rude, or contemptible person.”
“A useless or idiotic person.”
Here’s my own definition of a “jerk”: “A prideful, self-seeking, uncaring, and mean-spirited person who sees, at least in the case above, his employees as being little more than slaves.”
What do you do when you have a supervisor who is a jerk? What do you do when others you encounter in life are jerks? Do you strike back? Do you have a work slowdown, or a strike? Do you quit your job as soon as possible?
It will usually be tempting to try to return evil for evil. However, that is not what we as Christians are to do. It is not our place to exact vengeance. It is the Lord’s place to do the avenging and He promises to do it. That gives us the freedom to live in emotional peace even in the worst circumstances. Knowing our Lord will repay we can ourselves repay evil with kindness. We are to maintain a Christian witness by our actions in the face of someone who acts toward us like a jerk. As you determine in your heart to do so the Lord will give you the power necessary just as he did for the apostle Paul who said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).”
Actions alone, however, are not enough when you have to interact and associate with a jerk. You will find much comfort and peace in praying for them. Make them a priority in your prayer life and make their family a priority in your prayer life. It may be that God will change their hearts and the jerk will be transformed into a servant of God. It has happened before and the apostle Paul is an example of such dramatic change.