I Thessalonians 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
I have heard it said and have said myself, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” There are so many phrases and truths that we speak in our lives that have such deep rooted Biblical ties. This passage shed light on the “two wrongs” phrase for me. Many times when I read a verse, it sends me to other places as well.
In Matthew, Jesus touches on this philosophy of not repaying evil with evil or wrong with wrong. The first reference is in the passage about “an eye for an eye.” Jesus implies that we do not repay evil with evil. We are to stand strong and be “the better person” so to speak. Furthermore, in the next few verses, Jesus actually tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Wow! What a tough assignment…especially in today’s culture.
Besides raising my own children, I deal with students on a regular basis. I have to regularly refer to this phrase of “two wrongs don’t make a right.” In most cases, the child or student has reacted to someone who has provoked him. When dealing with said child/student, he nearly always makes a comment like, “Well, he did such and such to me.” And my response is typically, “So it makes it right for you to have taken the action you have taken?” Part of his “repay” response is just human nature. It is age-old otherwise Jesus would not have talked about it. The other part of the “repay” response is because we live in such a selfish culture.
I find myself often wanting to go down a “repay” route when dealing with a wrong in my life. I even use religiosity as my motivation to repay a wrong. For example, I will ask God to give the person his or her due. Even though God has told me, “Vengeance is mine…” it does not mean that I am to call the curses of God down on someone who has “wronged” me. In fact, another passage comes to mind that I should follow. Matthew 7:12 says, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” If I am living this way, I am not looking to repay a wrong with wrong. No matter what the person has done, if I am living according to what Jesus has commanded, I am looking at the situation from a different view than repayment. In fact, Proverbs 24:17, tells us not to gloat or rejoice when our enemy stumbles or falls.
As I watch TV these days and as I listen to conversations; I realize that our society is heavy towards revenge, vengeance, and bitterness. We live in an age of litigation. Furthermore, we are more worried about what we get or do not get. I believe this is part of what drives us to repay wrong for wrong.
The challenge is to view wrongs from the eyes of Jesus. When standing before the teachers of the law, he did not repay their wrong. When being beaten, he did not repay their wrong. When hanging on the cross, his only repayment was forgiveness. That is the mindset I must adjust to. I must work toward a Romans 12:2 mindset: “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I must live the words from I Thessalonians 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
1. Give an example of where you have repaid wrong for wrong. How did that feel initially? How did it feel ultimately?
2. With the shoe on the other foot, how has it felt when being repaid your wrong with wrong? Did it make you want to continue the cycle? Explain.
3. What steps have you taken to avoid repaying wrong with wrong?
4. What steps are you willing to take to improve your view around repaying wrong with wrong?
5. Ask God to point out to you this week where you can improve in this area and jot down some notes when you recognize His revelation to you.
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