14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. Galatians 5:14-15 NLT
I have watched with profound interest over the last few months the concerted effort by a handful of people as they have methodically and fervently attacked a very successful and effective leader. These attacks are not over morals, moral failure or even a lack of leadership skill. They of course would never view themselves as destroyers or bully’s but in reality the relentless criticism, lack of support, and over all negativity eventually demoralized and destroyed the leaders ability to rise above the continual battering.
I am fascinated by this story for several reasons. First of all, all of this has been done in the context of a Christian organization or institution. Secondly some of the perpetrators have been described as being spokesmen for the doctrine of holiness and the doctrine of “perfect love.” Thirdly the practice and doctrine of forgiveness is a major tenant of the bible and Jesus teaching and does not allow room for decades long personal grudges against an individual and does not allow for an unwillingness to even try to resolve personal relational conflict.
There is a story in the Old Testament of David being hunted by King Saul over jealousy. King Saul was God’s man to be king even though he was failing personally in his leadership and faith. He was God’s man until God decided to remove him. David out of frustration decided to “teach Saul a lesson” which at first glance could be perceived to be a positive and even a spiritual action. But not so in David’s heart. He was convicted by his actions and repented on the spot. Here’s the scripture . . .
“And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.
8 David also arose afterward, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed down.” 1 Samuel 24:4-8 NKJV
The holiness taught by Jesus would demand nothing less then repentance for actions unbecoming to the message of heart holiness. Someday the words spoken in secret will be shouted from the housetops. Someday God will judge our actions and not our positions, titles and accolades. Someday we will be held accountable to the standard of love and grace taught in the Holy Bible. We all have the capacity to fall and or fail . . . no one knows that better than me but we also have the capacity to do better going forward. When I see someone attacked or bullied I am reminded of these famous words I learned as a child. I am not including the whole verse but it is enough to make the point:
“The gingham dog went “Bow-wow-wow!” And the calico cat replied “Mee-ow!”
The air was littered, an hour or so, With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
The Chinese plate looked very blue, And wailed, “Oh, dear! what shall we do!”
But the gingham dog and the calico cat Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
Next morning, where the two had sat They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
There are consequences to all of our actions. God can redeem our stupidity and even our sin and for that I am very thankful. Lord, help me to love even my enemies with Your kind of love. Teach me Your ways and let me find Your path of peace, love and forgiveness.