Overreacting

Genesis 34:25-26 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male.They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.

overreactEarlier this year, some kids were saying some things about my daughter on the bus. We dealt with it, but my oldest son had a bone to pick.  “Do you need me to go down to your school and teach someone a lesson?” he asked.  He was ready to make some little boys pay dearly for their words.  Man was I proud!  Really I was.  Not that he wanted to knock heads together, but that he wanted to defend his sister.  This is the stuff we have been depositing in our children – we will stand together as a family.  He gets it!

The problem is, there is a difference between responding and reacting. Responding to a situation is wisdom; reacting to it is foolishness.  In Genesis 34, Dinah was mistreated.  In fact this scumbag Shechem took advantage of her.  Not cool Shechem.  Not cool. So out comes daddy’s shotgun if you ask me.  That’s the kind of emotion this kind of thing draws out of us.  Injustice, abuse, violation… I hate it all!  But what comes next in the story leaves the realm of response and into complete overreaction.  Dinah’s brothers don’t just take care of Schechem, they kill every male in the city.  Um, guys – you might have gone too far.

The thing is, Jacob thought the same thing.  He tells his sons that they overreacted; they went too far.  He fears that they went beyond the point of justice to the point of making enemies.  This is what happens when we overreact.  We end up not only hurting others, we hurt ourselves.  We damage our reputation and fracture relationships.  We are perceived as reckless and possibly much worse.  Even though I do it myself, I am learning that overreacting isn’t worth it.  If the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, I’ll take a fruit salad of just that, please!

*Lord, help us to keep our emotions in check so that we only respond and not overreact!

Oh no you di’int!

Acts 16:35-40 35 When daylight came, the chief magistrates sent the police to say, “Release those men! ” 36 The jailer reported these words to Paul: “The magistrates have sent orders for you to be released. So come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to smuggle us out secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out! ”38 Then the police reported these words to the magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them, and escorting them out, they urged them to leave town. 40 After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and departed.

no you di'intJesus taught us to turn the other cheek.  What exactly does that mean?  We are to endure persecution and not strike back when someone lashes out at us.  We are to be a people of peace and not stir up conflict.  We are to be lovers not fighters.  But somehow, we have the idea that we are to just lay down and get trampled on; let the world walk all over us.  We should just keep quiet and let injustice happen.  After all, we want to be like Christ.  But is that what he really meant?  Are we supposed to be silent lambs to the slaughter?  I don’t think so.

Paul didn’t think so either.  Here’s how it played out:  Paul and Silas were preaching when some jealous morons made some accusations which led  to public flogging.  Yes, they convinced the officials to strip their clothes off and beat them.  After a good humiliating beating, Paul and Silas were thrown in jail.  After a miraculous night in prison, there comes a surprising order: release them.  Now most of us would be happy that we were let out.  We might turn the other cheek and consider this trial as pure joy.  But Paul… he was ticked.

He said something to the effect of, “Excuse me?  You think you can just get away with beating and imprisoning innocent people?  And now you want us to just leave quietly? Oh no you di’int!  I’m not leaving until you come down here and personally escort us out of here.  While you are at it, you owe us an apology!”  So the officials came and escorted them out and apologized.  With their tails between their legs, they then told Paul he needed to leave town.  Instead he said, “we’re gonna have some church up in here!”  Then after church, he left.

So how do we reconcile this bold stand for justice with turning the other cheek?  I think that Jesus was speaking to humility and love.  Paul was acting out of confidence.  We think for some reason that humility and confidence can’t go together, but they most certainly can.  In fact, they should.  Just because we are called to be people of peace and love doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stand up for what’s right.  What happened to Paul and Silas was not right, and something needed to be said.  Friends, as Christians we are not called to be doormats.  We are called to be a people who contend for the kingdom of God here on earth.  We need to put our foot down on injustice.  We need to be a voice for what is right.  And there will be times when your cheeks take some slapping, but your aren’t called to lay down and be walked on.

*In what places have you become timid about your faith because you are trying to turn the other cheek or are afraid of getting slapped altogether? 

You can run, but you can’t hide

2 Samuel 20:20-22 20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bicri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.” The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

Remember when you were a kid and you played hide n seek?  I do.  Sometimes you could find a really good hiding space.  I can still remember some of the best places to hide in my parent’s house.  But there were some pretty lousy hiding spots too.  These were mostly taken by rookie hide n seekers.  Doesn’t everyone know to look under the kitchen table?  It’s just obvious.

Enough about hide n seek; let’s talk about Sheba.  He chose a pretty lousy hiding spot, too.  He tried messing with the king and then ran away and hid in a village.  But a woman of that village was loyal to the king and had his head cut off.  This is the problem with hiding from justice; it just doesn’t work.  There is no good hiding spot, because God happens to be able to see and know all things.  Hiding from Him is quite ineffective.

I wonder what would have happened if Sheba had asked to repent to the king?  I wonder if the outcome would have been different if he embraced surrender, repentance, and service.  What if he would have committed to serving the king for the rest of his life?  We have the same opportunity.  Because we are guilty, justice will find us… and it will affect us both in this life and the life to come.  But we don’t have to run away.  Instead, we can embrace surrender to the King.  Instead, we can let repentance be the cry of our heart.  And we can choose to serve the King with our whole lives.  This is the path to freedom.  It is the path of humbly running to the King rather than foolishly thinking we can run away and hide.

You’re an idiot

2 Samuel 4:7 They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they stabbed and killed him, they cut off his head. Taking it with them, they traveled all night by way of the Arabah. They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to take your life. This day the LORD has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.”

Forgive me for titling this entry, “you’re an idiot.”  Hopefully that doesn’t offend you.  Quite frankly, there were no other words to describe what I was feeling about these two guys who killed Ish-Bosheth.  Their names were Recab and Baanah and they were thugs.  They thought they were pretty amazing for killing Ish-Bosheth and marched off to take the great news to David.

There are lots of things that bothered me about what they did, but two things really stick out.  First, they did it for their glory.  Imagine their thought process: they would be the ones who handed Israel over to David.  They did the dirty job that no one wanted to do so that David could become king.  Imagine their dreams of glory.  I bet they expected to be praised and promoted, too.  David would surely put them in charge of his armies.

Secondly, they brought God into their wickedness.  They tried telling David that the Lord had avenged him against all the wrongdoing that Saul had done to him.  What in the world?  Bringing God into your sinful decisions is never a good idea.  Justifying your wrongful actions in His Name is downright shameful.

So what happened to these thugs?  Did they get their glory and their fame?  Did God shine upon them and pour out His blessings for killing Ish-Bosheth in His name?  Not even close.  David looks at them and basically says, “you’re idiots.”  Then he kills them.  You see, God doesn’t need help with justice.  He doesn’t need His people to repay evil with evil.  He has called us, the church, to love the world.  Injustice happens – it’s true.  But we must be content with God giving us our blessings and God dealing with those who persecute us.   For if we are to stand clean before Him, we probably shouldn’t have blood on our hands.