You must bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against someone else, you must forgive each other. Just as the Master forgave you, you must do the same.
I came across this story yesterday which the desert monastics would tell their students:
A brother who was insulted by another came to Abba Sisoes and said to him: “I was hurt by my brother and I want to avenge myself.” The old man tried to console him and said: “Don’t do that, my child. Leave vengeance to God.” But the disciple said: “I will not quit until I avenge myself.” Then the old man said: “Let us pray, brother.” And standing up, he prayed, “O God, we no longer need you to take care of us since we now avenge ourselves.” Hearing these words, the brother fell at the feet of the old man and said, “Forgive me, Abba. I am not going to fight with my brother anymore.”
When we take matters into our own hands, such as vengeance, we essentially forfeit God’s care. It’s like the tough guy in the movies who leaves the hospital early, ripping off his monitor wires and what not. “No thank you, experts in medical and trauma care. I got this.”
Isn’t this what we do with the ultimate Expert?
“No thanks, Lord of the Universe and Keeper of Souls. I believe I know better how to take care of myself as well as how to handle this situation.”
This is what we say when we go against God’s clear and loving guidance and mandates.
I love what Dallas Willard use to say to philosophers who said they did not think they needed to follow Jesus or His ways to be happy or live life well. Willard would simply ask them, “Well who did you have in mind?” If they said themselves, he would congratulate them and admit that he did not trust himself in order to follow his own heart, as it would no doubt lead him astray at some point. It was funny, too, I once heard him say that if you’ve found someone else to follow to give you life, that Jesus Himself, in His polite gentleness, would probably say, “Great! Good for you! Go right ahead then.”
In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria