When wronged, which better describes you: A justice seeker or a Grace granter? The answer to this question, though difficult, is important.
This past week I had a long meeting with my manager and the VP for Human Resources. Some of the first words that came out of the VP’s mouth was “Patrick, we are not going to terminate you.” Wow, thats a beginning to a meeting! She then went on to say something to effect of “this is going to be an uncomfortable conversation but one we must have.” She told no lies.
During this meeting I was made aware of a nasty rumor that had begun to circulate at my job. There is no basis for the rumor – it is a blatant lie. I am hurt and upset. I am angry. I am furious. And I am silent… for the most part.
I have a good chance of winning a lawsuit for defamation, considering the nature of the rumor. I have evidence on my side and can easily prove the four elements required under the law to prevail in a lawsuit. I’ve spoken to a few attorneys and they agree.
But now, a few Scripture verses are flying through my heart and head…
BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger…Ephesians 4:26 NASB
So I’m angry about this, but am I sinning? Well, lets consider this little gem from James
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17 NASB
So what is the right thing to do. There is my desire for justice and vindication of this egregious lie. But there is also my impulse to show grace and mercy and walk away from it. Someone once said
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is thatto you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27 – 36 NASB
When I juxtapose my desire for justice with the verses above, I admit I struggle with what I should do. And I admit I’m not sure which way I’m going to end up going.
I can sue for defamation of character and probably win. If I do this, I’ll more than likely win and achieve a modicum of vindication.
I can also decide to show mercy and compassion, not sue, not win, and not be vindicated by my acts.
I’ve decided to share my journey into this decision with you. For the next few weeks I will write about what I am thinking, what the Lord is showing me and, hopefully, the decision that I make in the end. What I won’t do is share the details of the slander that was slung at me – that is immaterial.
So what happens when we are wronged and our desire for justice collides with our impulse to show grace and mercy? I think we’re going to find out soon…and in the process, maybe we can learn something about ourselves and our desires.