It is possible for us to claim to know God and respect Him, while actually elevating ourselves to God’s place. One way this base disrespect occurs in when we ‘render evil for evil’ through retaliation. Seeking revenge against others is an affront to the Judge of all who declared, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19). In just this way, the strong man Samson ordered his future and rationalized his past. Samson followed the base rule of life: “As they did unto me, so have I done unto them” (Judges 15:11).
The base rule of life perpetuates strife and ill-will. Those adhering to it find themselves trapped in ongoing volleys of tit-for-tat. Through the centuries, a few men of insight have grasped the utter futility of retaliation. Among them have been Chinese, Greek and Jewish philosophers and others who have advocated a better rule of life. Simply stated, the better rule is this: “Do not do to another, what you would not wish him to do to you.”
Had Samson adopted this better rule of conduct, he and those near him would not have suffered many of the calamities which marked their lives (see Judges 13-16). Most notably, Samson would not have spent the last days of his life grinding grain for his enemies as a weak, blind, humiliated slave. This rule of life is therefore much better than the former; and yet, it too is flawed (or is at least lacking), for its very essence is negative. It does much to prevent the propagation of evil which results from retaliation, but takes no positive steps to overcome evil. It reduces the likelihood that hostility will escalate, but does nothing to bring about reconciliation.
Isn’t it clear that we need a pattern for living which is superior to both of those above? We need a way of dealing with others which is positive in nature that it might be capable of accomplishing positive good. We are blessed to have such a rule of life in Christ’s ‘golden rule’ – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matthew 7:12). In every situation of life, this maxim proves practical. Whether we face kindness, indifference or aggression, this simple rule will insure that we respond appropriately.
Please meditate on the superior nature of Christ’s ‘golden rule’ by considering the following Bible passages:
“Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you” (Proverbs 20:22).
““…Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 44 … I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:39, 44).
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. … On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” (I Peter 2:21-23).
Base, Better or Best? Let us never forget that we choose the way we respond to others, and thereby show our respect or disrespect for God.