No Grudge Matches

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Don not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge’ I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12: 18-20)

I have a friend who processes his anger by pulling pranks on the person who has embarrassed or offended him. To him it is all about getting even. Once he has called the person out, all is forgiven and he can resume normal relations with his friend. Having been on the receiving end of his hijinks on numerous occasions, I can say what he fails to take into consideration is how much this tactic erodes a relationship. The relationship may be restored to a fair balance as far as he is concerned, but what about from the standpoint of the newly injured party? I confess I am not totally blameless in this pattern. I plead guilty to needling him in his vulnerable points, my rationale being that we shouldn’t fear we are walking on eggshells every time we want to joke with a friend.

Trust is a delicate thing, often built brick by brick over a number of years, yet it can only take one disastrous bad move to bring the whole thing toppling down. It is a gift which should be highly valued by both parties if the friendship is to weather the ups and downs which come over the normal course of life. Life throws enough uncertainties into the mix----why amplify the strain by insisting on settling slights and offenses on our own? That is best left to God.

My relationship with my friend will probably weather the last practical joke, as over 30 years of experience with him has prepared me for his unorthodox methods which are, for the most part, harmless, but I do wonder if at some point we will conclude that enough is enough and go our separate ways. 
Self-control is listed as one of the nine fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 :22-23, as is the old –fashioned word “forbearance”, which means patience or tolerance. This applies to our everyday affairs with friends, family and coworkers, not just when a stranger cuts us off in heavy traffic, or engages us in a lively discussion about our political views.. As Christians we are held to a higher standard and should do our best to honor it. Both my friend and I would do well to take a look at how we measure up to this standard.

Lord, Help us to be ever mindful of controlling our negative impulses as we strive to be good representatives for you in the world. Amen

Carol (NC)