Getting Even

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

One of the natural tendencies of our humanness is to judge other people. When we have been wronged by someone, it is easy to look for an opportunity to get revenge. It is our natural inclination to respond to criticism with an attitude of getting even.

Jesus reminded us over and over again that we should never return evil for evil, but rather return good for evil. Romans 12:21 reminds us that mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 reminds us that you can never defeat evil aggression with an evil response.

I read where in the early days of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee was severely criticized by a General Whiting. It would be the natural thing for General Lee to look for any opportunity to get revenge on Whiting.

An opportunity presented itself when Jefferson Davis called Lee in for a consultation. President Davis simply asked Lee what he thought of General Whiting. Lee commended him in high terms and called him one of the ablest men of the army. He praised him to the utmost.

Afterwards, a fellow officer took Lee aside and wanted to know why he had not told Davis the thing Whiting had said about him. He told him that he had missed a golden opportunity to get even.

General Lee answered, “It was my impression that the President wanted to know my opinion of Whiting, not Whiting’s opinion of me.”

The ability to respond to evil with good is a difficult quality to develop. It is a quality that God desires in each of us and it is a quality that comes as we grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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