Last week I put your friendships to the test with a list of questions centered around this issue: Have you ever been let down by a friend?
I know the answer was a resounding yes. The evidence is all around, probably even this week. There will be many times in life where you are the victim.
This is a hard theological pill to swallow: As the victim, you are still responsible for your response to being sinned against.
Don’t misunderstand. The Bible is a very realistic book. It details hundreds of stories of men and women of faith who were victims. From the murder of Abel to the multiple attempts on the life of David (even by his son), to the betrayal of Christ, the Bible identifies with and comforts those victimized by friends, family, neighbors, and strangers.
The same Bible, however, is full of exhortations calling us to exercise patience, forbearance and compassion, to revoke revenge and anger, to forgive others and love our enemies.
This is the only way we can turn back the destructive power of sin in a relationship.
Micah 6:8 gives us direction regarding our reactions to sin: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Why would this instruction be necessary if it did not presuppose that we would be hurt? Because we all tend to sin in our response, and in so doing, add trouble to our trouble!
Some of the typical ways we do this are by:
- Confessing your sins to myself with bitterness. “I can’t believe she did that to me!”
- Confessing your sins to another person in gossip. “Let me tell you what she did to me!”
- Confessing your sins to God, seeking vengeance. “God, when are you going to do something to the person who hurt me?”
- Confessing your sins to yourself in anger. “How dare you do such a thing to me?”
When it comes to the sins others commit against us, we tend to communicate about them in destructive ways. Even when the sins of another have damaged our hearts and lives, we are called to guard our hearts so that we are not sucked into sin’s destructiveness.
The calls to patience, humility, forgiveness and gentleness are not calls to passivity. God is calling you to respond, but as he prescribes it. Holding grudges, becoming bitter, praying for vengeance, and spreading gossip are not methods that God honors.
When you hold the perpetrator “accountable,” but not in a spirit of humility, patience, and compassion, you end up perverting the very justice you seek.
Our need for Christ is just as big when we are sinned against as it is when we sin ourselves. And he will provide abundantly when we ask for his help.
1. Why can it be so hard to accept that as the victim, you are still responsible for your response to being sinned against?
2. What evidence have you seen of other people sinning in response to sins against them? How did this add trouble to their trouble, and why would you want to avoid their reaction?
3. Has someone hurt you recently? Are you, or were you, tempted to respond with bitterness, gossip, vengeance, or anger? Be specific in your review.
4. What is, or what would have been, the better and biblical way to respond? Why is that choice more rewarding?
5. What other gospel truths about identity and justice do you need to preach to yourself when you are the victim?