The Sixth Commandment states that we are not to murder (Exodus 20:13). To murder is the intentional killing of a human being under the wrong motives and circumstances which includes taking of your own life (i.e., suicide) or that of a baby while in the mother (i.e., abortion anytime after conception). This does not include the killing of humans in self defense, national defense (e.g., war), capital punishment (Genesis 9:6), or unintentional killing of a human (Numbers 35:11) . Furthermore, it does not include the killing of animals for food or clothing, etc. While many of us would say that they have never committed murder; nevertheless, the Bible states that if you hate including practicing prejudice towards another then you are already a murderer (1 John 3:15. Matthew 5:21,22. James 2:1-13). If You Can't Say Amen, Say Oh Me!
I. You might ask, what if someone in authority treats me unfairly? How can I not hate them for it? The following has helped me in this type of situation:
1. Remember, it is our calling (1 Peter 2:18-21). While in these circumstances:
- Be positive and not negative (Romans 1:16,17; 2 Corinthians 5:7. Romans 4:16-22. 1 John 5:4,5. Romans 8:36-39).
- Be active and not passive.You cannot go back and make a brand new start but you can start now to make a brand new ending. (Ephesians 5:14-16. Hebrews 12:1,2)
- Find things to be thankful for despite the circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
- Look to God as a source of comfort rather than others (2 Corinthians 1:3)
2. Why should we tolerate harsh treatment?
- It makes room for God and speeds up God’s righteous judgment (Romans 12:19,20).
- It forms the character of Christ in our lives (Romans 5:3,4. Psalms 66:12).
- Submission to unfair treatment glorifies God (1 Peter 2:23).
- It brings a blessing into our lives (1 Peter 3:8-10).
3. Folklore about Forgiveness:
- I must deny hurt to forgive others - no, forgiveness is simply releasing them from your judgment, vengeance and retribution thus turning the situation over to God (Romans 12:17-21).
I must confess to the other person.
- Only if they know they have been wronged otherwise you may hurt them more.
- If the Holy Spirit directs you to go to them (Matt 5:23,24).
- Time heals all wounds – no, only a right decision to forgive with time does.
- Forgiveness and trust are the same thing – no, forgiveness is given, trust is earned.
4. Barriers to forgiveness:
- Holding a grudge. This is like you taking poison in attempt to kill the other person! Stop taking the poison!
- Self pity. So, be a pity party pooper!
- Anger (leads to DAnger). (Ephesians 4:26. James 1:19,20)
- Fear of being vulnerable and open.
- Pride. Realize, arrogance is the precursor to ignorance.
- Revenge – you will never get ahead trying to get even.
- Judgmental spirit – we tend to judge others by their performance and ourselves by our good intentions or motives. We exaggerate the weaknesses of others while rationalizing our own.
- Unwillingness to forget – if we choose to forgive every time the situation comes to mind then God will over time cause us to forget the pain it caused (Genesis 41:51). Often the hurting offense is like layers of an onion that must be peeled back layer by layer (i.e., forgiven and released upon every remembrance) until it is all peeled away leaving the memory of the incidence but without the emotional pain.
- Insecurity - hurting people, hurt people and are easily hurt by other people. Like a wounded pet that bites their master an emotionally wounded person hurts those that they love. Furthermore, since they routinely live with so much emotional pain they tend to overreact to any confrontation no matter how minor in nature. What if someone accidentally stepped on your toes? Normally, it would give you only slight discomfort but what if you had an ingrown toe nail? PAIN! Someone with deep emotional pain is like the person with the ingrown toe nail where even minor offenses cause debilitating emotional pain.
- Having an alibi – “thy really deserved that”, “they just do not care”, “he knows that is just the way I am and can not help it, my parent(s) were that way, etc.”
5. The narrow road back to forgiveness:
- Realize what God has done for you; consequently, we have no right to withhold forgiveness (Psalms 103:12. Micah 7:19. Isaiah 43:25. Matt 18:31-35; Jeremiah 31:34).
- Realize forgiveness is a choice not an emotion (Ephesians 4:32. Romans 5:8. Colossians 3:12,13).
- Understand the consequences of an unforgiving heart, neither will our Father in Heaven forgive us (Mark 11:25. Matthew 6:15).
- Forgive that person immediately... right now! (James 4:17)
- View others that are abrasive in our lives as a tool for shaping our lives into Christlikeness (i.e., they are holy sandpaper!).
Understand there are three steps in restoring a relationship that has been damaged by a wrong: (Again, forgiveness can and must always be given even if the offending person does none of these three steps).
- Repentance (i.e., admitting you were wrong to those wronged).
- Restitution (i.e., making amends for the wrong with the strong promise to not do it, again).
- Reconciliation (i.e., the restoration of fellowship and harmony only after the first two steps are complete).
II. What if the unfair leader situation occurs in the church?
First, place your trust in God, believing that He is utterly in control no matter what the circumstances.
David, son of Jesse, was so confident that God was in control of this situation that he could trust God with his reputation and future (Psalms 23). When he had the opportunity to kill the King, he didn't take it (1 Samuel 24:11). He knew God was in control and had a different plan.
Second, do not believe that a difficult leader will prevent you from accomplishing meaningful ministry.
David was living proof that you can accomplish much under a jealous and insecure leader.
Third, find your niche, excel, and stay connected to the team as a whole.
Don't give in to the temptation to withdraw and do your own thing. Do your very best and give the ministry your all, but don't buy into the trap that says, "Just stay in your little area, do your thing, and let others deal with the mess." That only promotes the problem. Those near you will sense your withdrawal and though you may never say a word, they will sense your distance and lack of team interaction. Do your thing, and do it well, but stay connected to the big picture and the team as a whole.
Fourth, be prepared that success may bring you difficulty.
"Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." (I Samuel 18:7) As David returned to town after killing Goliath he was honored and praised. He had come from a peasant background in Bethlehem, as a shepherd boy, and the youngest of seven brothers to become the hero of the day.
I Samuel 18:8-9 reads: "Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him: 'They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed only thousands.' Now what more can he have but the kingdom? And Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on."
The situation gets worse. Read what I Samuel 18:12-14 reveals: "Now Saul was afraid of David, for the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and appointed him as his commander of a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. And David was prospering in all his ways for the Lord was with him."
King Saul was jealous of David. He likely gave this military assignment to David because he was hopeful that David would be killed in battle. But David acted as an honorable and successful soldier, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. It doesn't always work well, and fairness went out the window long ago. But like David, do the right thing anyway!
Fifth, if it's time to leave, then leave, but do it in a way that honors your leader.
Understand that it is not your job to fix your leader. If he or she needs to change, that's between them and God. The Lord may use you to influence your leader and you may be a valuable instrument of change in your leader's life. However, that is extremely different than spearheading an effort to force them to change because you think that someone must do something. I promise you, taking on your leader will not result in the good of the church.
If the Lord directs you to say something to your leader, (pastor or lay) then say it in private. If he or she chooses not to accept what you have to say, drop it. (Obviously, if it is a Biblical issue such as immorality, that is a different scenario. But even then, it is not likely to be your job to take matters into your own hands 1 Timothy 5:1,19). If after you have spoken the truth in love privately (and, following the example set in Matthew 18, perhaps take another with you) you still get nowhere and the issue at hand is just unacceptable to you, then you leave. Don't stay and split the church. Don't make a big fuss on the way out. Don't say things you will regret. Don't do anything that will hurt the church in the long run. Take the high road even if you have been wronged. This is the example that Jesus set for us.
The Law of Consequence for Violating the Commandment
Living in hatred will keep you in spiritual blindness (1 John 2:9,11. 2 Corinthians 4:3,4) and self deceived (Proverbs 26:24-26). King Saul provides an example of the blindness that can come from the hatred of David. He even tried to kill David - the very one that was providing him relief from the demonic induced pain (1 Samuel 16:13-23. 1 Samuel 18:6-11).
The Opportunity of Blessing for Keeping the Commandment
God blessed David for obeying Saul. "So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants." (I Samuel 18:5) David's obedience got him a promotion, gave him favor with the people, and won the respect of those he led. God does not promise this kind of blessing to all, but He will not overlook your obedience, particularly to Himself (Psalms 91:15,16 ).
God's economy is different than that of the world. The world gets even, we turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39. Matthew 5:43-47). The world is out for glory, while we serve without recognition. I'm not suggesting that you or any other leader become a doormat. That is contrary to the essence of leadership. I only want to encourage you to take the high road even when life presents you with difficult challenges. Furthermore, by walking in love your discernment is enhanced (Philippians 1:9-11) so as to escape deception and its resulting spiritual blindness (1 John 1:5-7. 1 John 4:6-12).
* This blog is dedicated to the memory of my younger brother David Carl Warren who was murdered in 1986 at the age of 27. He was murdered while sleeping in his car in Golden Gate Park by a gang in search of money. They were able to get $5 dollars from him in the struggle that resulted in his being stabbed in the heart. He subsequently attempted to drive himself to the hospital but wrecked his car on the way. He was pronounced dead not long after arriving at the emergency room. Fitting he died of a broken heart even as our Wonderful Savior Jesus Christ did on the cross (1).
(1) Left click on underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.