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Someone does something wrong to us. That makes us angry with him. For the next couple of days this occupies our mind, makes us lose our mood, and we even lose our sleep and appetite thinking about that man's evil. We may think of returning it to him in a greater measure so that he will learn a lesson and never do it to us again. And if we actually do it, it escalates the problem to the next level, and our unhappiness lasts for a longer time. We tell ourselves that it is this other person who has caused us all this suffering and that it is all his fault.
But have we ever paused to think that it is our response to this person that has caused us all the misery for us? In most cases that man has been going around without even a thought about us while we may have even lost our interest in life! We think it is not fair. But have we thought that even though he has done something bad to us, we chose to react like this, and that it was this reaction that caused us all the problem? Couldn't we have chosen to react in a different way altogether and avoided all our misery? Or do we imagine that when someone does something wrong to us we have to be miserable afterwards?
One of the results of the Fall is that our abilities to think, feel and choose rightly have been damaged. As a part of this, we have even lost the awareness of the fact that we have an ability to choose what we think and that what we think will determine how we feel. For example, what would happen if we think like this when someone does us wrong? "Poor man, I forgive him because he doesn't even understand what he is really doing (Lk.23:34). There must be something troubling him. But why should I also do bad or feel bad just because he has done something wrong? Thank God He has taught me His ways." Our anger, bitterness, thoughts of revenge or wanting to teach him a lesson, etc., disappear, and we can have a peaceful time, eat well, sleep well, etc. Now we can think soberly and calmly about how we should respond in a practical way to what he has done.
The Devil tries to hit two things with one stone; he tempts one man to do us wrong, and then after that he knows we will be angry with that man. If we fall to that temptation we cause ourselves unnecessary suffering! We are suffering now for 'no fault of ours' but because someone else has done wrong! Aren't we being foolish to let ourselves suffer like this when we have the God given ability to respond differently and enjoy God's peace?
"Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (He.12:2,3). Jesus is our example. How He behaved and reacted was always good and right because He was not allowing others to determine His own behaviour. He decided always, as He was led by the Father, to do the right thing no matter how unreasonably or badly others treated Him. As a result, even though provocations came He enjoyed His peace all the time.